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  • Sep 21, 2014
  • Updated: 5:26pm

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

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


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Li also said he was upset about the news that Hong Kong has been replaced by Beijing as the venue for a meeting of Apec finance ministers and central bankers.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

"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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He is right that hk is not competitive any more. Since 1997, with so called all the backing from china bring in biz, yet our GDP per capital is much behind singapore which does not enjoy the china boom as much. But he didn't point out one of reasons for lost of competitiveness was due to high property price and rent that was partly caused by developers like him with the government together. Hk facing tremendous problems with aging population and not moving towards knowledge based economy at all. We still have less universities seating by % vs singapore and developed countries! what make it worst is the hi end graduate students are 70 to 80% non HK student won't stay after study. Even Li, he is actively invest in the Valley and Israel in hi tech as there is no tech in hk. As said, we don't have a local startup IPO in hk of sizeable for 10 to 20 years? No new blood.
If you look at Japan, u think they are in trouble you will be seeing hk getting even worst. Why? Japan was in trouble because of aging population similar to hk. But at least Japan has much more world brand and technology than hk before aging. HK financial can be easily overtake by shanhai. It is a matter of time. Say 10 years later when we are aging, with no tech, loosing market to SHANGHAI when yuan starting to float...imagine what will that be?
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
In my company many of the older staff have got more passion than many of the young ones, who seem to think the world owes them a living. Recruiting is a nightmare. Sitting on Facebook all day is not what I pay you for.
@dai muff: we blocked FB at our office....easy to do. We had folks sitting on this and watching movies until we blocked both.
LKS hits right on the nail when he said HK needs to streghthen its competitiveness. In part, it has to do with management cultures. For example, maintenance has never been a strong suit with Chinese management culture. Take toilet maintenance, one can immediately notice the difference between that of HK Land and IFC. Services is another area for comparison. Here, even LKS's own companies are lacking in many ways. Chinese are good at building things, but, when it comes to maintenance, it has been a problem for a long time, perhaps too long!
The problem with HK is old oligopolistic people old men like him. He did not seem to be concerned about competition when HSBC sold him Hutchison out of receivership at a knock down price behind closed doors. 35 years ago. And don't mention his conviction for culpable insider dealing in 1985 please.
Dai Muff
Look at how fast some of the mainland's architectural showpieces are allowed to fall apart. In Guangzhou and in Beijing.
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'!
He means he is downbeat about HIS future in Hong Kong - having so publicly bet on the wrong CE candidate!




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