• Sat
  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 6:47am

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

Li Ka-shing’s rumoured plan to reduce investments ‘could damage Hong Kong’

Report by central government think tank warns tycoon's reputed plan to reduce his investments in city could hit its economic competitiveness

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 11:41pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 4:02am

Li Ka-shing's apparent move to reduce his investments in Hong Kong could damage the city's economic competitiveness, says a study by a central government think tank.

Hong Kong still ranked as the most competitive Chinese city last year, according to the annual "blue paper" by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

But it said soaring property prices and the lack of innovation could hamper the city's growth and it could be overtaken by other Chinese cities.

"[There are also] rumours about Li Ka-shing and his group's plan to withdraw from Hong Kong. If [the group] frequently sells assets in the latter half of this year, it could affect Hong Kong's overall business competitiveness," the report said.

Coincidentally, Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa - the two flagship firms controlled by Li - reduced their shares in Hong Kong-listed Hui Xian Real Estate Investment Trust yesterday.

Rumours about Li's intentions have been swirling since the planned sale was announced last year of his ParknShop supermarkets, later abandoned.

In November, he rejected suggestions he was pulling out of the city as a "big joke". But in January, Hongkong Electric Investments - part of his energy flagship, Power Assets - raked in HK$52 billion in an initial public offering. And in March, Li sold a 60 per cent stake in the container port's Terminal 8 West for HK$2.47 billion.

In February he gave a downbeat assessment of Hong Kong, pointing to Occupy Central, the harassment of mainland tourists and declining competitiveness vis-à-vis neighbouring markets.

In response to the CASS report, Cheung Kong said Li, its chairman, had emphasised on several occasions that the group had no plans to withdraw from the city. "Hong Kong and the mainland will continue to be the group's important investment area," a company statement said.

Liao Qun, chief economist of Citic Bank International, said: "It is hard to say whether rumours of [Li] cashing in will affect the city's competitiveness.

"Li has sold assets in Hong Kong and in some mainland cities. But I see it as an asset allocation. I do not think he will sell his assets in Hong Kong and mainland on a large scale."

Dr Chan Kin-man, co-organiser of the Occupy Central movement, said the protest could create "short-term disturbances", but that Hong Kong would become more competitive if it had real democracy.

The CASS report said Hong Kong could leverage the support of Beijing to develop as an offshore yuan and international asset management centre.

It added that a transparent government coupled with an efficient transport system could also help to sharpen its edge over other mainland cities.

But Hong Kong faced a challenge because of its high level of dependence on the financial and real estate sectors and its rapidly ageing population.

"The development of small-to-medium-sized enterprises has been affected by high rentals," the report added.

Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said: "It is academic research. It does not mean that it represents the central government's stance."

Additional reporting by Benjamin Robertson and Tony Cheung

 

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This article is now closed to comments

johnwe
All media hype and rubbish. LKS is a businessman and his bottom line is to target profitable new buys and slough mature, stagnant or declining holdings.
He is now into lots of utilities (Gas, Electricity, Water, IT, telephone) firms in UK, Europe and even Australia. UK economy is ahead of all in Europe, while EU is coming out of a severe economic crisis - perfect time to enter with bargain prices and high growth potential. Australia has a smaller population and user-habit and hence lower ceiling for growth but still room and better than what he is selling off here. He has to fund these purchases.
Watsons & PnS are mature and attract a very good price for an profitable ongoing business.
Moreover, in HK the conversion to supermarket culture (from wet market) is near optimum and numerous wetmarkets are now as comfortable, clean and organized as supermarkets and user-behavior and numbers have lost much elasticity. The great growth period is long over and is now only marginal, monopolies give little added value as absolute growth is limited by small population. The Container Terminals should be among the first to go as HK as a port is a reducing activity. We are no longer the high-service end exit for the catchment areas of Dongguan and the hinterland. Manufacturing has moved further into the W and middle of the country and find Yantai and Shanghai much more easily accessible; they have caught up and improved on us and its so much cheaper in every way.
virokick
I'm just wondering who/ what do we hate the most in HK ?
1) LKS and sons.
2) Ex FS Anthony L aka Lexusgate becoming CE?
3) too many mainland tourist?
John Adams
Mr LKS and sons:
I wonder if you are reading this
If you are reading it , it's pretty clear that we don't want you and your ilk here, nor any of the other property / retail-monopoly / hegemony / government - collusion barons
Please leave HK , and good riddance
So long, farewell, bye bye Mr Li
You will not be missed.
kctony
The biggest bloodsucker of HK people. If he leaves, P&S will be cleaner and the Cheung Kong flats will be less deceptive. HK will be more competitive then.
536b50a1-a484-45de-a291-35040a320969
Even the King himself couldn't stand the defilement the mainlanders are causing at His majesty's backyard.
allan94
good riddance to bad rubbish. the li family has destroyed hk with the connivance of the hk govt.
many curses to the family for 3 generations. they have done nothing but **** all the locals to enrich themselves. i hope they bury him with all his money.
536ddcdf-e5e8-4ff0-aed5-52be0a3209cb
L
gunzy
Just wonder, how many people here live in a building built by LKS?
.
How many people here use mobile services by LKS?
.
How many people here mainly purchase groceries at PnS?
allan94
he controls too many aspects of HK life.. Very sad that this man, n his 80s, in the twilight of his life, has so many people cursing him. he must feel pretty lousy these days...
536b50a1-a484-45de-a291-35040a320969
@allan94
LOL think again. You think for a person who has no soul would have feelings or empathy toward another human being ?

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