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  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 12:42pm

Li Ka-Shing

Often referred to as “Superman” in Hong Kong because of his business prowess, Li Ka-shing is the richest businessman in Asia, and chairs conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings, a property group. Li turned Cheung Kong Industries into a top property group, and Cheung Kong expanded to acquire Hutchison Whampoa in 1979 and Hongkong Electric in 1985. Li is a noted philanthropist and heads a charitable foundation that is a shareholder in Facebook.

NewsHong Kong
ECONOMY

Tycoon Li Ka-shing downbeat over Hong Kong’s future

Tycoon warns over competitiveness, Occupy Central and harassment of mainland tourists

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 9:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2014, 8:16am
 

Poll

  • Occupy Central: 8%
  • Harassment of mainland tourists: 11%
  • Declining competitiveness: 81%
1 Mar 2014
  • Occupy Central
  • Harassment of mainland tourists
  • Declining competitiveness
Total number of votes recorded: 1,125

Li Ka-shing, Asia's richest man, gave a downbeat assessment of Hong Kong's situation yesterday, warning that the Occupy Central campaign, the harassment of mainland tourists and declining competitiveness with neighbouring markets would erode the city's prospects.

Li also said he was upset about the news that Hong Kong has been replaced by Beijing as the venue for a meeting of Apec finance ministers and central bankers.

"The move to occupy Central does not benefit Hong Kong," he said. "If this happens, it will give a bad impression to outsiders ... even if it just lasts for one hour, it will be harmful to the city."

The campaign wants to stage a sit-in protest in the city's business district this year if electoral changes fail to meet its expectations.

Li spoke at the post-earnings results press conference of his flagship companies - Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa.

Cheung Kong posted a 10 per cent rise in its net profit to HK$35.26 billion for the year ended December last year, and Hutchison Whampoa reported its net profit for the year ended December up 20 per cent to HK$31.11 billion. Both were better than analysts' expectations.

Li said Hong Kong people need to stop complaining about Chinese tourists because they help support the city's economy.

Even if it just lasts for one hour, it will be harmful to the city
LI KA-SHING ON OCCUPY CENTRAL

"It will be very difficult for Hong Kong if there's no support from China." Li referred to the harassment of mainland tourists during a protest in Kowloon last month in which demonstrators targeted shoppers in Tsim Sha Tsui,

"Stop scolding China tourists, this is totally wrong," he said. Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong from China jumped about 17 per cent to 40.8 million last year, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

In what seen as an unusual move, Li repeatedly expressed sadness about recent happenings in the city.

"I was saddened that Hong Kong has been replaced by Beijing to host the Apec conference. I hope Hong Kong can be recognised by our own country and other countries as the ideal place to host such international meeting," he said.

He was disheartened about the recent brutal attack of former Ming Pao chief editor, Kevin Lau, that sparked off concern over freedom of press in Hong Kong, and upset by the continuous reports criticising that he is pulling out of Hong Kong, despite his repeatedly denials.

Commenting on Hong Kong's competitiveness and opportunities, he said that the city's competitiveness should be strengthened. The gross dometic product of Hong Kong and Singapore were at similar levels in 1997, he said. But now Hong Kong's per capita GDP is now about one-third less than that of Singapore.

Li was ranked the richest man in Asia by Forbes magazine with a net worth of US$32 billion last year. But the ranking could be threatened by Galaxy Entertainment chairman Lui Che-woo, who has ridden Macau's casino boom to become Hong Kong's second-richest person, with a net worth of US$21 billion.

Li said that in a period of at least 10 years in the past, foreign magazines, which he did not identify, had underestimated his wealth by more than 40 per cent because they did not regard Canada's Husky Energy as one of his assets.

"Actually I am the biggest shareholder in Husky, slightly more than Hutchison. That's a personal investment. But I don't bother to point out," he said.

Li also reiterated he had no plan to retire.

 

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52

This article is now closed to comments

stvt
It's easy for him to urge ordinary HK residents to embrace China and accept the status quo when he benefits tremendously from it.
johndoe
If Mr Li was so concerned about competitiveness, how about he pay his workers better wages at the port so that they do not strike. How about he stop jamming other operator networks than 3 in his HQ building. How about he build affordable properties for locals, both commercial and residential. And how about he condemn the corruption, cronyism, cartel behavior and anti competitive practices that prevents new entrants.
whoaman
Mr. Li wants more mainlanders here because they pay lots of $$ for his flats...
keresearch
GDP per capita has not fallen against Singapore in PPP terms. Add in the 1.2 million new residents and SGD strength.
JC
I urge you to look at the IMF and World Bank figures to check the facts according to nominal and PPP terms. It is even higher than at nominal levels. HK's population 20 years ago was about 5.5 million. Singapore's about 3 million. Yes the gap in absolute numbers has narrowed from 2.5 million (current HK population - 7.1 million) to about 1.8million (current Singapore population - 5.3 million. Yet in terms of per capita levels, at both nominal and PPP, Singapore's GDP per capita has increased! What do these mean? It means higher growth and productivity levels in the Lion City. Simple as that
SpeakFreely
Whatever these group of wealthier developed made in hk can't be reverted as the property interest group is getting bigeye and bigger like a cartel. But these is eroding competitiveness of hk on an ongoing basis. The only thing I think is possible for them to reinvest back to hk is use their earned money to invest to a tech foundation, like what Silicon Valley did when all tech leaders pour the money back on a personal level via venture capital to the economy to create more new startups. I would ask to he local universities ( but please build something real not just publish paper, don't make a electric car prototype but build a Tesla!) and these wealthy group to build a huge, I meant a huge, Vc or fund to invest on oh tech. This is the only way out for hk as we are too expensive to develop or rely on low margin biz like tourism. Don't say hk is too small for tech, look at Israel and Finland. In US, not just Silicon Valley, now even New York, and many cities are doing tech. Rather than giving charity, I would ask Mr. li heavily to donate or invest in local tech foundation. Or maybe he can start a Li Tech Foundation or, Developers Tech Foundation, as he is familiar with tech investing in FB, Spotify, etc. these investment or charity will be the way out for hk to redistribute the wealth to create something new and money making and sustainable to increase the hk competences long term. In the end, they all benefit and we all benefit as well.
ejmciii
Sorry to disappoint, master Li. We don't have a built in seat at the table like the masters gave you. You are allowed to participate because you have accepted the Master's hegemony. You have shown that even one who has succeeded as a capitalist can bow down to worship the communists. You are the favorite type of slave for the masters because all you want is money and giving money to make people give up freedom is the favorite means of the masters. The rest of us are not rich slaves and will not be allowed to be rich slaves under the masters' program, so perhaps we need to take care of ourselves a bit more and rely on the largesse of princelings a bit less. But thanks for caring so much.
anotherguy
You are stupid. Period.
ejmciii
But at least I irritated you. Now run along, you have Princeling boots to lick, lackey.
Dai Muff
For political reasons, our leaders want us to be ever more beholden to the mainland and so they do not want to encourage us to be competitive but to "go do business on the mainland".
It really is not brain surgery.

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