Sir Ka-shing Li
GBM, KBE, JP
Li Ka-shing in 2010
13 June 1928 |
Chaozhou, Guangdong, Republic of China
|Occupation||Chairman of the Board of Cheung Kong Holdings, Hutchison Whampoa and Li Ka Shing Foundation|
|Net worth||US$31 billion (2012)|
|Spouse(s)||Chong Yuet Ming (Deceased)|
|Awards||Justice of the Peace (1981)
D. SSc (1995)
Sir Ka-shing Li, GBM, KBE, JP (born 13 June 1928 in Chaozhou, China) is a Hong Kong business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as of October 7, 2013 he is the richest person in Asia, with a net worth of $28.8 billion. He is the Chairman of the Board of Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL) and Cheung Kong Holdings as of 2008; through them, he is the world's largest operator of container terminals and the world's largest health and beauty retailer.
Considered one of the most powerful figures in Asia, Li was named "Asia's Most Powerful Man, Li Ka-Ching" by Asiaweek in 2001. His companies make up 15% of the market cap of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Forbes Magazine and the Forbes family honoured Li Ka-shing with the first ever "Malcolm S. Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award" on 5 September 2006, in Singapore. In spite of his wealth, Li has cultivated a reputation for leading a no-frills lifestyle, and is known to wear simple black dress shoes and an inexpensive Seiko wristwatch, which is at odds with the house he owns in one of Hong Kong's most expensive precincts, Deep Water Bay in Hong Kong Island. Li is also regarded as one of Asia's most generous philanthropists, donating over US $1.41 billion to date to charity and other various philanthropic causes. Li is often referred to as "Superman" in Hong Kong because of his business prowess. Because of his wealth, he is regarded as a celebrity, and even has a wax statue in his likeness (the only non-artist to have one in Hong Kong). See: Li Ka-shing wax statue in Hong Kong
Li Ka-shing was born in Chaozhou in Guangdong province, China, in 1928 to Teochew descendants. Due to his father's death, he was forced to leave school before the age of 15 and found a job in a plastics trading company where he laboured 16 hours a day. By 1950 he was able 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 expanded by acquiring Hutchison Whampoa and Hongkong Electric Holdings Limited in 1979 and 1985 respectively.
A Harvard Business School article summarises Li's career in the following way:
From his humble beginnings in China as a teacher'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.
A publication by Joe Studwell called Asian Godfathers, however, unveils that the rags-to-riches myth in which many south-east Asian tycoons shroud themselves, applies as little to Li Ka-Shing as it does to other tycoons in the region:
In reality, Li went to school for a couple of years and then started working for a wealthy uncle (from the family that owns Hong Kong's Chung Nam Watch Co.). Subsequently he became part of an important subcategory of tycoons who got ahead, in part, by marrying the boss's daughter.
Li's businesses cover almost 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 capitalisation is HK $647 billion (US $82.9 billion) as of December 2009. (This includes some double counting of the Group's controlling stake in 12 listed companies around the world.) The group operates in 55 countries and employs over 260,000 staff worldwide.
In 1950, after learning how to operate a plant, Li founded a plastic manufacturing company in Hong Kong with funds borrowed from family and friends and contacts he cultivated as a salesman. Li avidly read trade publications and business news before deciding to supply the world with high quality plastic flowers at low prices. Li learned the 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.
In 1958, unable to renew the lease for his company, Li was forced to purchase and develop a site by himself. An opportunity to acquire land arrived after the 1967 riots were in full swing when many people fled Hong Kong. As a result, property prices plummeted. Li, believing the political crisis would be temporary, and property prices would eventually rise, bought parcels of land at low prices. By 1971, Li officially named his real estate development company Cheung Kong (長江實業), named after Cheung Kong, (Chang Jiang or the Yangtze River) the longest river in China.
Cheung Kong Holdings was publicly listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972. During board meetings, Li stated on a number of occasions his goal of surpassing the Jardines-owned Hongkong Land as a leading developer.
The successful bid by Cheung Kong for development sites above the Central and Admiralty MTR stations in 1977 was the key to challenging Hongkong Land as the premier property developer in Hong Kong. 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 another British overseas territory – Bermuda, in anticipation of the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to Communist China in 1997.
Ports and electricity
In 1979, Li closed a unique transaction and acquired his current flagship company Hutchison Whampoa Limited from 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, Canada (Deltaport in Vancouver), China, the United Kingdom, Rotterdam, Panama, Bahamas and many developing countries. In total, Li's businesses control 13% of all container port capacity in the world.
A subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, the A.S. Watson Group (ASW) is a retail operator with over 7,800 stores. Its portfolio encompasses retail brands in Europe such as Superdrug (UK), Marionnaud (France), Kruidvat (Benelux countries), and in Asia including health and beauty retailer Watson's store and wine cellars et al., Park'n'Shop supermarkets (and spin-off brands), and Fortress electrical appliance stores. ASW also produces and distributes water products and beverages in the region.
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. While such structures are rarer in the US and UK, they do exist. For instance, Google uses a dual-class structure to give its founders and insiders 10 votes for each class-B share while the general public is offered class-A shares with 1 vote each.
Internet and technology
Li has also made a foray into the technology business, where his investment and venture capital firm Horizons Ventures is specifically allocated towards backing new internet and technology startup firms, bought a stake in doubleTwist. His other firm, Li Ka Shing Foundation bought a 0.8% stake in social networking website Facebook for $120 million in two separate rounds. and invested an estimated $50 million in music streaming service Spotify.
In 2011, Horizons Ventures invested in Summly, a website-summarizing app. Notably, the investment made Nick D'Aloisio, Summly's founder, the world's youngest person to receive a venture capital investment at just fifteen years old.
In 2012, Horizons Ventures invested $2.3 million in Wibbitz, a company that provides a text-to-video technology that can automatically convert any article post or feed on the web into a video in a matter of seconds.
In August 2012, he acquired a stake in Ginger Software Incorporated.
Besides business through his flagship companies Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa, Li Ka-shing 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 fifth largest bank in Canada until the sale of his share in 2005 (with all proceedings donated, see below). 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 private charitable foundations established by Li including the Li Ka Shing Foundation in Hong Kong and the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation based in Toronto.
Li has some real estate interest in Vancouver, specifically in connection with Concord Pacific Developments that developed the old Expo '86 lands in Yaletown, as well as Concord Park Place and CityPlace, Toronto in Toronto.
His two sons, Victor Li and Richard Li, are also prominent figures in the Hong Kong business scene. Victor Li works directly with his father as managing director and vice-chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited, while Richard Li is the head of PCCW, the largest telecom company in Hong Kong. They are both Canadian citizens.
Even at his age, Li remains physically fit, and says that no matter what time he sleeps at night, he gets up before 6 am each morning to play golf for about an hour and a half. His golfing partner is Hong Kong movie mogul Raymond Chow. Li says that during that time, '...the ninety minutes that I have are mine.' His preferable amount of time for sleep is eight hours. It is also said that he walks on the treadmill for fifteen minutes a day at noon.
Awards and honours
- Grand Bauhinia Medal
- Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- Commandeur, Légion d'honneur
On 4 August 2011 at the interim results announcement for Hutchison Whampoa, Li endorsed Tang for the forthcoming chief executive election and praised him for five full minutes. Then Li let slip and said "You all can be just like me, one-person-one-vote (一人一票)." The media then looked at Li in disbelief, and pointed out that regular citizens do not get one-person-one-vote. Li then tried to laugh it off and said "maybe in 2017 they will have one-person-one-vote to choose the chief executive, I probably just said it a little early."
- Li was invited by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping to become a member of the board of directors of the China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) to support the economic reform initiatives that Deng was attempting to develop. CITIC is China's largest conglomerate and is 42 percent owned by the government of China. It serves as the chief investment arm of China's central government and holds ministry status on the Chinese State Council. Li served only one year on CITIC's board before resigning his directorship. He was the non-executive director of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation since 1980 and became Deputy Chairman of the bank in 1985. He was also Deputy Chairman of HSBC Holdings in 1991–1992.
- In September 2001, the newest tower in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University was named after Li, following a HK$100 million donation to the University.
- The Li Ka Shing Centre in Cambridge, England, houses a Cancer Research UK facility, which is a part of the University of Cambridge. The Centre was named after Mr Li following a £5.3 million donation, and was opened in his presence in May 2002. The Li Ka Shing Foundation endowed a professorship of oncology at the university in 2007 with a subsequent gift of £2 million.
- In November 2002, the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in China was founded with a large donation from the Li Ka Shing Foundation.
- The Li Ka Shing Library at the Singapore Management University is also named in his honour after a US$11.5 million donation in 2002 to the higher education institution.
- After the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake disaster, he reportedly pledged a total of US$3 million.
- In 2005, Li announced a HK$1 billion (US$128 million) donation to the Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong. It was renamed to Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine on 1 January 2006, which provoked controversy between the university and a few alumni of the faculty, notably Kwok Ka Ki, over the university's naming procedures.
- Also in 2005, Li donated US$40 million to the University of California, Berkeley, citing that he was impressed with the university's accomplishments in the biosciences. In recognition of Li's donation, the university has named the campus' new biosciences facility the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, which opened in October 2011.
- A long-time supporter of Stanford University since the 1980s, Li is the principal benefactor to the US$90 million Li Ka-shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, which opened in Fall 2010 and is now the headquarters for the Stanford University School of Medicine.
- On 9 March 2007, Li Ka-shing contributed $100 million to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in the National University of Singapore. Also, "to honour and recognise Dr Li's support and generosity, LKY SPP will name one of its three buildings at the historic Bukit Timah Campus after him".
- Li Ka-shing donated C$25 million to St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto to found the Li Ka-Shing Knowledge Institute, which will serve as a medical research and education centre in downtown Toronto.
- Li Ka-shing donated C$ 25 million to the University of Alberta to found the Li Ka-shing Institute of Virology.
- Li Ka-shing (through the Li Ka-shing foundation) donated HK$30 million (US$3.85 million) to aid relief efforts in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake
- In 2013, Li Ka-shing donated $2 million to the University of California, San Francisco to support their advance precision medicine initiative. The funds will be used to build a worldwide network of clinicians and researchers, launch leadership exchanges between UCSF and China, and create a systems-pharmacology program to develop more precise medications.
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- Li Ka-shing endows new oncology professorship at Cambridge[dead link]
- Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business
- About CKGSB
- As of 05:20, Thursday December 19, 2013 (UTC)
- Donation to go towards Endowment in Support of the Library and SMU Scholarships[dead link]
- Sanders, Robert (23 June 2005). "$40 million gift from Li Ka Shing Foundation boosts health science research". UC Berkeley Media Relations. Retrieved 12 May 2009.
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|Order of precedence|
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
|Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal