Li ka-shing's fabulous pledge to third son won't include flagship shares Call it the Li Ka-shing style of philanthropy. Asia's richest tycoon yesterday promised to give away one-third of his wealth to his charity, which he often refers to as his third son, and is ready to open his cheque book for a HK$10 billion commitment. Giving away a substantial part of one's wealth isn't easy in Chinese culture but we believe Mr Li can share the joy of the world's richest people, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who have vowed to give away large chunks of their wealth in stages. Mr Li's wealth is tough to calculate; he controls listed companies that are worth nearly HK$1 trillion while his private interest in Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Husky Energy alone is worth almost HK$150 billion. So it is fair to assume his charity commitment will be more than HK$50 billion. His 26-year-old charity arm, Li Ka-shing Foundation, owns cash and shares in companies such as Bank of China. Occasionally he injects non-core assets into his fund which has so far donated HK$8 billion. Stocks he will not give away are his flagship shares. 'If I am like Buffett and if I need to sell my stocks in Cheung Kong, Hutchison and Husky, I am afraid there won't be any press conferences,' joked Mr Li. Perhaps, but only his sons Victor and Richard are likely to complain that he is doing too much for charity. media friend turns mum For the first time, reporters at the joint Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong (Holdings) post-earnings press briefing were told that the usually media-friendly chairman would not field questions on his private life. In fact, chairman Li was separated from the media rabble by a bunch of mini-banyan-type trees. Troublemakers such as Lai See were lucky enough to sit next to a beautiful security lady who also passed along the microphone for questions. 'It is a company results press conference,' explained Mr Li. 'It doesn't make sense to talk about personal things. I could have talked about these things for two, three hours but I don't want to talk about things that are not benefiting Hong Kong.' One thing Mr Li is not so thrilled to talk about is his younger son, Richard. Quizzed several times about Richard's proposed sale of PCCW, which initially ruffled the feathers of the mainland government, Mr Li showed displeasure while neither confirming nor denying that he may be involved as sale talks continue. 'I reserve my right not to answer that,' he said firmly. But Mr Li gave a straight answer that his second son would not return to Hutchison and that nothing had changed towards the reception in China to Mr Li Snr's companies' investments there in the aftermath of his son's sale plans. once more with feeling: no comment How to avoid questions you don't want asked in your press meeting? Take Giordano Holdings chairman Peter Lau Kwok-kuen who started off with a prepared opening statement (and made it a disclaimer in the first page of the company's first-half results handout) that he could not comment on the recent offer for the company by Japan's Fast Retailing. 'The company takes its obligations under the Takeover Code very seriously and our financial adviser, Goldman Sachs, will be monitoring [events with the code in mind],' he said. That didn't stop reporters' questions on the topic with a touch of creativity but the chairman was not fooled. 'There are two other things I can say: no comment and we treat it with a normal heart.' hkr chief pursues dream ship Rome was not built in one day, neither was a modern replica of a Ming Dynasty wooden ship. Six months ago, HKR International managing director Victor Cha Mou-zing aspired to follow in the wake of Admiral Zheng He (left) and planned to build a HK$30 million 'towering eunuch' 1,200-tonne wooden ship. His grand plan has hit a snag - a lack of China experts that can build a safe vessel. Mr Cha is now looking for talent in Norway.