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Li Ka-shing - Diversified (Billionaire)

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Li Ka-shing - Diversified (Billionaire)

Post by selfmadevip on Fri Jan 11, 2008 7:46 am

Li Ka-shing - Diversified (Billionaire)

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Born: July 29, 1928 Chaozhou, Guangdong, China
Age: 79
Country Of Citizenship: Hong Kong
Residence: Hong Kong , Hong Kong, Asia & Australia
Occupation: Chairman, Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa
Salary: N/A
Fortune: Self made
Net worth: $23.0 billion USD (2007)
Source: Diversified
Marital Status: Widowed, 2 children
Spouse: Chong Yuet Ming (Deceased)
Education: High School, Drop Out

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The Honourable Sir Li Ka-shing, GBM, KBE, Commander was born in July 29, 1928, is a wealthy businessman from Hong Kong. He is the richest person of Chinese descent in the world, one of the richest and most influential investors in Asia, and the ninth richest man in the world according to Forbes with an estimated wealth of $23 billion on March 6, 2007. Presently, he is the Chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL) and Cheung Kong Holdings in Hong Kong.

Considered one of the most powerful figures in Asia, Li was named "Asia's Most Powerful Man" by Asiaweek in 2001. Forbes Magazine and the Forbes family honored Li Ka-shing with the first ever "Malcolm S. Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award" on September 5, 2006, in Singapore. In spite of his wealth, Li has a reputation for leading a no-frills lifestyle, and is known to wear simple black dress shoes and an inexpensive Seiko wristwatch. Li is also regarded as one of Asia's most generous philanthropists, donating over $1 billion USD to date to charity and other various philanthropic causes.

Li is often referred to as "Superman" in Hong Kong because of his business prowess. His peers in Hong Kong include Lee Shau Kee of the Henderson Land Development, New World Development's Cheng Yu-tung, Kwok family of Sun Hung Kai Properties, and Henry Fok Ying-tung, among others.

Li Ka-shing was born in Chaozhou in the Guangdong Province, China in 1928. In 1940 the Li family fled to Hong Kong to avoid the turmoils in China. Li's family stayed at the home of his wealthy uncle. The arrogance of Li's uncle with his immense wealth ignited Li's determination to make a place for himself in the world.

Li's father died in Hong Kong. Shouldering the responsibility of looking after the livelihood of the family, Li was forced to leave school before the age of 15 and found a job in a plastics trading company where he labored 16 hours a day. By 1950, his hard work, prudence and his pursuit of excellence had enabled him to start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. From manufacturing plastics, Li led and developed his company into a leading real estate investment company in Hong Kong that was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972. Cheung Kong continued to expand by acquiring Hutchison Whampoa and Hongkong Electric Holdings Limited in 1979 and 1985 respectively.

A Harvard Business School article summarizes Li's career in the following way:
From his humble beginnings in China as a teacherA ' s son, a refugee, and later as a salesman, Li provides a lesson in integrity and adaptability. Through hard work, and a reputation for remaining true to his internal moral compass, he was able to build a business empire that includes: banking, construction, real estate, plastics, cellular phones, satellite television, cement production, retail outlets (pharmacies and supermarkets), hotels, domestic transportation (sky train), airports, electric power, steel production, ports, and shipping.

Li's businesses are dominant in every facet of life in Hong Kong, from electricity to telecommunications, from real estate to retail, from shipping to the Internet. The Cheung Kong Group's market capitalization is HK$766 billion ($100 billion USD) as of 2005 (This includes double counting - eg. Cheung Kong has a market cap of HKD 195 billion as of 2006 and Hutchison Whampoa has a market cap of HKD 338 billion as of 2006 but actually HKD 170 billion of Cheung Kong market cap would have been due to its holding of 49.9% of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. ). The group operates in 54 countries and employs over 220,000 staff worldwide.

In 1949, after learning how to operate a plant, Li founded a plastics manufacturing company in Hong Kong with funds borrowed from family and friends and contacts he cultivated as a top-tier salesman. Always anxious to strengthen his company's position, Li read trade publications and business news religiously. Li noticed the growing wealth of the west and decided to supply the world with high quality plastic flowers at bargain prices. Li visited Europe to learn the sophisticated technique of mixing colour with plastics that resemble real flowers. After retooling his shop and hiring the best technicians he could find, he prepared for weeks for the plant visit of a large foreign buyer. Impressed with the quality of Li's plant, the buyer placed a large order. A few years later, Li grew to be the largest supplier of plastic flowers in Asia and made a fortune selling them. Later on, when people ask him if he considered himself lucky, Li's response was "No, I wasn't lucky. I worked hard to achieve the goals I set for myself."

In 1958, unable to renew the lease for his company, Li was forced to purchase and develop a site by himself. Li was diligent in bidding for land, always making calculations to ensure his profit would be satisfactory and not get carried away by the heat of the moment. Li has a saying that "buying land is not like buying antique, it is not the only deal available." His big break came during the 1960s. When the 1967 riots inspired by the Cultural Revolution on the Mainland were in full swing, many fled Hong Kong. As a result, property prices plummeted. Li, believing that the political crisis would be temporary, and that property prices would eventually rise after that, started buying good parcels of land at rock-bottom prices. By 1971, Li officially named his real estate development company Cheung Kong named after Cheung Kong, (Chang Jiang or the Yangtze River) the longest river in China. The name of Li's company signals his philosophy that success is predicated on the contributions of countless others, as the Yangtze River is fed by countless tributaries.

A goal Li announced when establishing Cheung Kong was to become bigger and more profitable than Jardine Matheson in real estate development. Jardines was founded in 1832 by two Scottish merchants William Jardine and James Matheson. They profited greatly by selling opium to local Chinese, which they sourced cheaply from Bengal and sold at exorbitant prices. The excess cash was used to buy land, construct offices and warehouses, deal drugs, export tea, and operate as a shipping insurance agent. In 1872, Jardines withdrew from the opium trade and diversified into sugar refining, textiles, property development and tramways. By going legitimate, the company became the biggest landlord in the territory's Central business district and transformed the barren island (Hong Kong) into a major international business center.

Despite its size, Jardines decided in the 1980s to protect itself from hostile takeover by Li or other outside investors. The company implemented a cross-shareholding structure that was designed to place control in the hands of Britain's Keswick family despite their less than 10% holdings in the group. In 1984, the company also moved its legal domicile from Hong Kong to the British colony of Bermuda in anticipation of the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997. A few years after declaring his goals, Cheung Kong raced ahead of Jardines and won the highly coveted prize of developing a plot of Central.

In 1979, Li closed a unique transaction and acquired his current flagship company Hutchison Whampoa Limited from one of today's largest banks HSBC. The purchase created a massive conglomerate with business interests in multiple industries. The most notable branch of his business is the investment in container port facilities around the world, including in Hong Kong, China, Rotterdam, Panama, Bahamas and many developing countries. All in all, his business controls 12% of all container port capacity in the world.

A subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, the A.S. Watson Group is a leading retail operator with over 6,800 stores. Its portfolio encompasses health & beauty specialist Watson's Your Personal Store, PARKnSHOP supermarkets, Great Food Hall, TASTE food galleria, Gourmet boutique style fine food hall, Fortress electrical appliance stores, WatsonA ' s Wine Cellars and Nuance-Watson airport duty free shops. ASW is also a major producer and distributor of water products and beverages in the region with Watsons Water the top selling brand in Hong Kong.

Hutchison Whampoa group has the reputation of being an astute asset trader. It frequently builds up new businesses and sells them off. Huge profits were obtained in the sale of its interest in Orange to Mannesmann Group in 2001, making a profit of $15.12 billion. In 2006 Li sold 20% of Hutchison's ports business to Singapore rival PSA Corp., making a $3.12 billion profit on a $4 billion deal.

Recently Hutchison Telecommunications, nearly 50 percent owned by Hutchison Whampoa, sold a controlling stake of 67% in Hutchison Essar, a joint venture Mobile operator in India, to Vodafone for $11.1 billion. It had invested roughly $2 billion earlier.

Like many Asian conglomerates, the Li Ka-shing group is structured to retain disproportionate control without incurring the cost of owning an equivalent economic interest. This separation between control and interest is accomplished through pyramid structure, dual-class equities and cross-holdings. For comparison, American companies such as Google also use a dual-class structure to give its founders and insiders 10 votes for each class-B share while the general public are offered class-A shares with 1 vote each.
Despite the disproportionate power this grants Li Ka-shing a close control of the company earning him a pattern of respect from other shareholders.

His two sons Victor Li and Richard Li are also major players in the Hong Kong business scene. Victor Li works directly with his father as managing director and deputy chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited, while Richard Li is the head of Pacific Century Cyber Works, the largest telecom company in Hong Kong. They are both Canadian citizens. One of the most notable business acts by Victor Li was his deal to acquire majority shareholding of Air Canada, the largest and national airline of Canada in 2004 while the airline was under bankruptcy protection. The deal fell through after the labor unions of the airline refused to negotiate regarding their pension.

Besides business through his flagship companies Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa, he also personally has extensively invested in real estate in Singapore and Canada. He was the single largest shareholder of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), the third largest bank in Canada until the sale of his share in 2005 . He is also the majority shareholder of a major energy company, Husky Energy, based in Alberta, Canada.

In January 2005, Li announced plans to sell his $1.2 billion CAD stake in the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, with all proceeds going to the Li Ka Shing Foundation in Hong Kong and the Toronto-based Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation.

Li has some real estate interest in Vancouver, specifically in connection with the development of the extensive urban renewal project of Yaletown.
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