Saturday, 13 August 2016

Not Too Sentimental

Li Ka-shing is Hong Kong's wealthiest man with a global outlook
As a skillful tycoon, worth US$31.3 billion this year according to Forbes, Li Ka-shing has learned not to be sentimental about his investments.

Up until a few years ago Hong Kong people were enamoured with the richest man in town, whose rags-to-riches story has been well documented, making plastic flowers and eventually investing in real estate. His empire now includes property development, telecommunications, ports, supermarkets, utilities, retail, oil and even venture capitalist investments in vegetarian meat.

But in the last few years he became the token tycoon we all love to hate. He -- oh sorry his companies -- have made people feel cheated with unscrupulous practices particularly when it comes to selling flats, and with only two main supermarket chains in Hong Kong, one of which is his, prices aren't very competitive, leaving the consumer not much choice but to shell out.

Victor Li says the company is keen to look at deals
His control over the city's economy is a testament to his ability to beat the system, and also the government's inability or unwillingness to rein in his and other tycoons' power. This wealth inequality was one of the sparks of the Umbrella Movement in 2014, though nothing was resolved on that front, and we were resigned to continuing to give a good chunk of our paychecks to Li everyday.

He has decided to focus more on global property investments, which seems prudent from a global, tycoon point of view to spread risk. But that also means he is unsentimental about the city where he started his fortunes.

Cheung Kong Property Holdings made its latest statement to the stock exchange on Wednesday and Li said:

As it is presently challenging to identify property investments with reasonable returns in the current cyclical stage of the property market, the Group will also pursue global investments to extend our reach to new business areas.

Li invests in vegetarian meats, and here fries an alternative egg
The following day, Li's son Victor who is deputy chairman, was asked by financial analysts if the company was considering selling commercial properties.

"I always look at deals, it's my job to look at deals, both purchases and sales. "There is no deal that we must have, there is no property we must own, other than this building -- we do need an office ourselves," he said, referring to the Cheung Kong Centre where CK Property has its headquarters.

Well OK. Maybe Li has a soft spot for his headquarters, but other than that, let's make a deal...

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