• Sun
  • Nov 23, 2014
  • Updated: 5:01am

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Li also said he was upset about the news that Hong Kong has been replaced by Beijing as the venue for a meeting of Apec finance ministers and central bankers.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

sinohog
I have a lot of respect for "uncle Li Ka Shing," I have to disclose that I am an investor who has made a lot of money owning shares in his companies. I don't agree with most his harshest critics here as he made a lot of money for middle class investors, unlike his youngest son whose shares are just about worthless while Richard is now a billionaire. Li Ka Shing truly means well. He could have pulled up stakes and moved out of the territory in 1997 and made a fortune cashing in on the boom before 1997 and then taken his money elsewhere to make more money such as on the underpriced (at the time) Canadian oil sands . The mainland investors haven't faired as well. This time he is "cashing in during the boom". Why now? To me, he is a canary in the coal mine. Something is amiss. I'm just a "main street" investor, the kind who took a beating while Wall Street made out well. He is sending us main street investors a warning. I wish his son, Richard prior to the tech bust in Hong Kong's failed Cyber Port debacle. Whether or not I need to sell his shares, depends on how well thought out his future plans are and how good an investor his son Victor is, i.e. where is he going to put his money if indeed he does cash in? I don't trust Richard, but I still haven't made up my mind about Victor, whether or not he shares his father's sincere commitment to us shareholders whom he as looked out for for so many years.
scmpgt
Since when did Li Ka shing care about journalists? The media is just another outlet for him to better market his properties for sale. Nothing more.
SpeakFreely
One more key factor. What made hk successful was the hungry baby boomer. The new generation is nothing close at all to the level of intensity. So, a "company" with aging and less passionate workers, what do you expect to happen?
Dai Muff
Look at how fast some of the mainland's architectural showpieces are allowed to fall apart. In Guangzhou and in Beijing.
KwunTongBypass
He means he is downbeat about HIS future in Hong Kong - having so publicly bet on the wrong CE candidate!
chaz_hen
"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.
I think he just pointed it out for us...
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.
Dai Muff
He makes his money through others' hard work. Big difference.
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.
icwu
The BIG joke is that 'no one should worry about China's GDP growth, because in fifty years or sooner, everything will have to be rebuilt again'!

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