IT'S results day for Mr Li Ka-shing, and in a tiny boardroom at the China Building, scores of financial reporters are munching teacakes and crunching numbers from the chairman's statement of his flagship Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa. One floor above them, in his spartan executive suite, Mr Li is still on a high from a bravura 40-minute performance, after fielding the usual flurry of questions that remain like a bad hangover from last year's shock interim Hutchison loss. Is Mr Simon Murray, Hutchison's managing director, on the way out? Will he sell his interests in an ailing telecoms company in Britain? What about China deals? He had answered them all with a judicious mix of a little information and a lot of good-natured banter until his wrist watch bleeped that it was time to retire to his office and a cup of tea. There, in a rare rush of self-congratulation, the usually modest tycoon allows himself a small pat on the back. ''Frankly speaking, I'm not saying I'm proud of myself, but I'm very satisfied with what we're doing. I will never say anything I'm not sure of or something not yet final. I will just say: 'We've done a nice job'.'' It all seems a far cry from the last time Mr Li spoke exclusively to Sunday Money in the wake of the Hutchison loss five months ago. The talk then was all of uphill struggles and hard work. Today, a much more chipper Mr Li is announcing a $6.2 billion net profit for Cheung Kong, and a $3.1 billion profit for Hutchison, down five per cent on 1991 but definitely not out. And he is ready to look to the future. He will move his companies into major China plays and steer them away from the overseas investments that have plagued them for the past 12 months. He will match pound for pound any price cutting war in Britain to make his telecoms company there pay its way. And he will continue to offer Hongkong home buyers controversial 85 per cent finance deals on property sales, despite the Government's 70 per cent bank lending limit, in a policy he believes is giving more help to the sandwich class than Mr Hamish Macleod's mortgage ceiling. So is the worst finally over? Mr Li lets out a long sigh. ''I still cannot guarantee . . . ''I am disappointed with the Hutchison profit, where ordinary profit is lower than last year by five per cent. ''But if added together with the extraordinary, last year we got a little bit over $1 billion profit. ''In 1992, we had a $117 million loss. So if they are both added together, ordinary and extra-ordinary, it's 29.7 per cent lower than last year. ''Overseas - especially in the UK - the telecommunications I expect this year to still be in loss. ''Last year it was eating almost all the Hutchison Telecom profit, which is very successful in Hongkong. I think this year it will continue to lose. But now we will still continue to pump in capital and give support to those developments we have planned.'' But there is better news from Husky, the root cause of last year's results debacle. With a Cheung Kong director and overheads cut, Mr Li is hoping the company will stabilise this year. Indeed, when opportunities arise, he hopes it will continue to expand and develop. ''We're going to issue some convertible debentures to investors. Then we can get very cheap interest, and that is a benefit for the company's interests. ''Of course, it's winter time and it's much colder in the US, so the gas price has picked up. That is a benefit for 1993. ''Oil and gas is one very important point to us, and I am almost sure at least this year there will be no loss and, very possibly, a profit.'' Quite what drives Mr Li's obsession to crack Britain's telecoms market, despite cut-throat competition and an economy in ruins, baffles most analysts. In a voice weary with explaining, Mr Li insists: ''We are already committed. ''For example, the UK's total is around GBP500 million [about HK$5.72 billion]. This year, we will again pump in over GBP200 million. ''I am, myself, very concerned and am watching this business. But we will continue to make it work . . . we hope. ''The UK economy is only part of the reason. And the number of subscribers is much less than what we expected. But this is a long term business. And normally, telecommunications takes time to be successful. ''We have been changing the management team, and we think now the team is better. And head office is watching the UK very closely. But who knows about the economic factors in the UK? ''We will reduce the selling price of each unit, like CT2, then maybe we can make the business better. It's a price war. We are prepared to go as low as it takes to try to build our market share.'' Will there come a time when enough is enough? ''I don't think so. In the meantime, we will still try to run this business and we're still pumping new capital in. ''Simon Murray spends a lot of time watching this. If business is improving, then fine. If no, we will make the executive board in the UK better controlled and better managed. In the meantime, we think we are going in the right direction.'' But he adds a rider: ''When I say this, it may look very optimistic. I must say we are already prepared this year for the fact that the UK loss will eat into the Hongkong Hutchison Telecom profit. That is the expectation.'' The mention of Mr Murray revives the rumours that again filled the market in the run-up to the announcement that, finally, the managing director of Hutchison is quitting. Mr Li smiles enigmatically. ''There are no power struggles in my companies,'' he says. ''And it is not possible to have power struggles. The turnover of staff at Cheung Kong is almost nothing for the past so many years. ''Apart from being chairman of HWL, I am also the chairman of the executive board. I am frequently involved in the business of subsidiaries, attending meetings and making decisions. ''For all executives at CKH, for all these years, except those who leave at retirement, there has never been anyone who resigned. For example, Mr Davy Chung worked in the company for many years, and this year he is our new director.'' To illustrate the point, Mr Li explains he has had only five secretaries since he started the company 43 years ago. ''The first one was a gentleman. Now he is 80 years old he retired as executive director this year, and became non-executive director. ''Of the other four, one has become director and sales general manager; another has become senior manager and handles the finances; then the next one, she takes care of the first one, doing a director's job, but not yet a director; then Ms Amy Au.'' Ms Au, who is quietly taking notes, gives a smile of acknowledgement. And Mr Murray? ''I am very happy to have Simon. He was a friend for so many years before he joined with Hutchison. Definitely, I will not tell him: 'Just do the UK job'. '' Mr Li rarely ventures into the political arena in Hongkong, but the Government's policy on mortgage ceilings is one that clearly grates, even though he makes light of the consequences. ''The mortgage ceiling is not too much of a problem for us,'' he says with almost devilish understatement. ''We do our own. We do an 85 per cent mortgage.'' Isn't he breaking ranks with Government House by doing so? ''No. Hongkong tries to be a free economy. And I don't think the Government will interfere with a property company financing its own property as part of its sales. If they interfere, that will be very bad for Hongkong.'' But he certainly feels it is time for Mr Macleod to raise the ceiling. ''I think so. For the last 40 days, we started sales of six blocks of residential apartments in Tin Shui Wai. ''Each time two blocks, and each time 400 to 500 units. I would say 99 per cent of the buyers, conservatively, were true users. And those buyers are very careful to choose what they want. ''We give 85 per cent finance, 15 per cent down. Quite a high percentage pay 30 per cent. But so many still pay 15 per cent . ''Suppose I don't do 85 per cent. Those people will need to wait another two or three years. So I think we have done a nice job. ''So many other developers do 90 per cent. We try to be co-operative with Government policy. ''If we did 90 per cent finance, it would greatly help our sales. But still, my policy is to stay at 85 per cent. ''Within three weeks or so, another large project also will start to sell in Hongkong island. We will do the same: 85 per cent finance. ''I don't like to do the bank's business. If, one day, the Government will allow the banks to do 85 per cent finance, I will be happy to give this business to the banks. I don't like to take the business. ''They would very much like to give the finance. But because the Government has this kind of order, they cannot do anything beyond 70 per cent. Their hands are tied.'' So Mr Li may be giving more immediate relief to the sandwich class than the Financial Secretary? ''Yes. I don't want to attack the Government. But I say: 'I am helping'. ''This time, the total amount should be about 1,400 units. If I don't do 85 per cent finance, more than 800 people could not afford to buy. ''And this time, our selling price is 13 per cent lower compared to the last sales. Lower prices and a a higher percentage mortgage. That is truly helping the people who need a place to live.'' Of his intention to invest no more than 25 per cent of Cheung Kong's and Hutchison's assets in China, Mr Li is cautious. ''But not today,'' he quickly explains. ''It's a maximum commitment, though if there are good investment opportunities, there is a possibility of increasing this limit.'' ''I'm so happy to see the reform and open policy in China. That's one reason why Cheung Kong should not commit too much investment overseas, including Hutchison. ''The policy is: we will investment more in China and Hongkong. Hongkong is still our base. ''In China deals, these are my personal commitments. That's why I say the workload is so heavy. It has never been so heavy for the last 10 or 20 years. ''I make the decisions, of course. There are still a lot of good Chinese executives running China, but each time, from the beginning until the final deal, I need to be involved with them. ''Later on, when the deal is done, and they are already operational, then they can run by themselves and they don't need so much time.'' To the analysts - a recent biting Schroders report was one - who say they can see no clear strategy for Cheung Kong, Mr Li says simply: ''To me, I think we have done a good job. ''We've got enough of a land bank to run our business. ''We have got enough opportunities in China. And I'm very satisfied with the team of management in Cheung Kong and I'm very satisfied with the cash flow, the planning for the future. Myself, I am very, very satisfied. ''Of course, shares go higher and lower. It doesn't matter to me. Since 1972, when we went public, people who invested at that time, and who got dividend and invested to buy more Cheung Kong shares have found the investment today is worth at least 150 times [as much]. How many companies today can give you an investment worth 150 times more? ''I cannot promise that the next 20 years will have the same result. But I'm satisfied with the task and I'm very happy today.'' And he adds: ''As you see, the $6.2 billion profit compared with 1991 is over 28 per cent up. Don't forget, a company which makes $1 million can easily make 10 times its profit. ''But for a company that makes $4.8 billion, talk of another 28 per cent is not easy. Especially since Hutchison's profits have dropped. If Hutchison profits hadn't dropped, Cheung Kong profits would be higher than 28 per cent.'' But despite his candour, Mr Li is not about to give away just why his company results were brought forward to last week. All he will say is that Hongkong corporation law puts time limits on what a company can do by way of trading before its results are announced. ''On Friday, I saw the unstable situation and on Saturday I immediately gave notice I would like to have a meeting one week earlier. ''Nothing wrong with the company, but very good to have a free hand. You can do anything. That is the main reason.'' So is anything planned for the future? A new shares issue? Covered warrants? An acquisition? It is time for Mr Li's wrist watch to go off; he has another meeting. ''A free hand means you can decide anything that you want to do,'' he says on his way to the door. ''That's all I can say.'' As they say: watch this space.