Li Ka-shing’s CKI expands airport parking footprint in Canada

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 5:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 10:57pm

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing’s Canadian airport car park operator Park’N Fly has acquired an indoor airport parking business for C$12 million.

Park’N Fly, 50 per cent-held by Li’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI), has bought a “valet indoor airport parking” business adjacent to the Winnipeg International Airport in central Canada, which is known for its extreme winter and summer climates that makes indoor parking useful for customers.

“The Winnipeg business is poised to immediately deliver strong and recurrent cash flow, generating a stable and predictable return for CKI,” said CKI group managing director Kam Hing-lam in an emailed statement.

“Backed by a strong financial platform, we will continue to seek acquisition opportunities that will further expand and enrich our investment portfolio.”

The deal will extend Park’N Fly’s footprint, which has already been providing parking facilities in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa and Halifax.

The company is the largest and only national operator of off-airport car parks in Canada, offering over 22,400 car parking spaces over 180 acres (73 hectares) of land.

After building a large portfolio of infrastructure and energy businesses overseas in recent years, CKI and 38.9 per cent-held utility unit Power Assets are preparing to bid for a 51 per cent stake in Britain’s National Grid’s natural gas distribution network, which is estimated to be worth £10 billion, Bloomberg reported on September 22.

Backed by a strong financial platform, we will continue to seek acquisition opportunities that will further expand and enrich our investment portfolio
Kam Hing-lam, CKI group managing director

Dennis Ip, Daiwa Capital Markets’ head of Hong Kong and China utilities, renewables and environment research, said in a note that “regulatory approval could be an overhang” if the pair bid for the assets, since they would own six out of eight regional gas distribution networks in Britain.

“We could foresee that the regulatory bodies might have concerns about the dominating share of the gas distribution asset in the United Kingdom,” he wrote.

Citing national security concerns, the Australian government in August rejected the CKI and Power Assets’ bid for the nation’s largest energy grid in New South Wales state, which was estimated to fetch some A$10 billion.

Separately, Li’s flagship CK Hutchison, the ultimate parent of CKI and Power Assets, is looking at ways to expand its UK wireless business, despite a failure to get regulator approval for a proposed merger of its mobile-phone business with Telefonica SA’s O2 unit earlier this year, an executive said.

The group is “lobbying very hard” and is focused on acquiring airwaves in the UK, Frank Sixt, the finance director of CK Hutchison, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday.

In May, the European Union blocked CK Hutchison’s bid to create the UK’s biggest mobile carrier with the O2 merger, citing antitrust concerns.

Combining O2 with Hutchison’s Three unit would have led to higher prices for all operators in the UK, according to the EU.

“I don’t think that was the right conclusion but it was the conclusion drawn by competition authorities,” Sixt said. “I don’t think there’s any ability to effectively reverse the competition decision.”