The richest man in Hong Kong Li Ka-shing retires

Li Ka-shing, a wartime refugee who used to sweep Hong Kong's factories for a living, retired after a career of more than half a century accumulating one of Asia's greatest fortunes since the construction of skyscraper until the sale of soaps. [19659002] The 89-year-old president of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. and CK Asset Holdings Ltd. will remain as group advisor after resigning in May. The eldest son Victor, 53, will take control of a conglomerate that affects the lives of practically everyone in Hong Kong: the family Power Assets Holdings Ltd. generates its electricity and the ParknShop supermarkets sell their groceries. The group also operates mobile phone stores and Superdrug and Savers in the United Kingdom, has ports around the world and a controlling stake in Husky Energy Inc. in Canada.

"Looking back all these years, it is an honor for me to have founded Cheung Kong and served society," Li told a room full of reporters in Hong Kong on Friday. It has been "my greatest honor," he said.

Click here to see a photo gallery of Li Ka-shing over the years

Retirement took a high note as Li's four largest companies: CK Hutchison, CK Asset, CK Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. and Power Assets Holdings Ltd. – reported higher profits in 2017. All four shares rose, although the announcement, including two of the gains, came after the end of the Hong Kong deal.

With a fortune of around $ 34 billion, according to the Bloomberg Index of billionaires Li has been an accessory as the richest man in the city for an entire generation of Hong Kong's inhabitants and spearheaded a definite era by a handful of intrepid Chinese immigrants who built great empires throughout Asia. For many, he is the face of the shifting fortunes of Hong Kong when the British elite of the former colony gave way to Chinese dynasties.

"Li's retirement symbolizes the end of an era," said Joseph P.H. Fan, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who has researched family businesses for two decades. "No one can replace Li Ka-shing as the legendary founder of the largest conglomerate in Hong Kong."

Your retirement announcement illustrates your confidence in business continuity, given that you have prepared your child for several decades, Fan said. 19659016] Uber-Capitalist

Li embodies some of the conflicts that arose from the region's rise: nicknamed "Superman" by local media for his business acumen, it symbolizes inequality in a city with one of the most demographic characteristics unbalanced of the planet. He is a real estate developer who has earned admiration for his entrepreneurial skills and a manager with such dominant companies that often stifle smaller competition.

He is also a super capitalist who courted the communist leaders. An important figure in the emergence of China as an economic superpower, Li is the most prominent among a generation of Hong Kong moguls who charged across the border after Deng Xiaoping and his successors promoted economic reforms. Its investments in the continent cover industries ranging from energy to retail and infrastructure.

Beginning with some timely local real estate investments that consolidated their wealth, Li built a commercial empire that included retail, energy, ports, telecommunications, media, and biotech companies around the world. Abroad, the companies controlled by Li are among the largest foreign investors in the United Kingdom

More information: interactive graph on the empire of Li Ka-shing

For many in Hong Kong, Li is a negotiator and a investment guru on a par with the "likes" of Warren Buffett. Li's record includes a $ 15 billion profit from the sale of his Orange mobile phone unit in the United Kingdom to the German Mannesmann AG in 1999. He is a major investor in new technology companies such as Facebook, Spotify and Siri. During the public appearance, he was routinely asked for forecasts on stocks, the real estate market and the economy.

From Orange to Duet

Even towards the end of his career, he did not slow down his negotiation. In 2015, the magnate restructured his main interests in two companies, one that housed his real estate badets and one that contained the rest. It continued with the acquisition of A $ 7.4 billion ($ 5.8 billion) from the Australian energy provider Duet Group in 2017.

Li was born on July 29, 1928 in Chaozhou, a city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong . His father was the headmaster of a school, but the formal education of young Li stopped at the high school when the Japanese invading troops arrived in Guangdong. Fleeing China's war in Hong Kong in 1940, Li found work in a factory while caring for his sick father, who soon died of tuberculosis. By the time he was a teenager, Li worked 16 hours a day at a plastics trading company.

After the war, Li made his first fortune as a plastic flower maker. His career as a real estate mogul began in the late 1950s when, unable to renew his lease, he bought his factory site.

Political Connections

In the years to come, Li invested in local real estate as other sellers, most notably in 1967, when the unrest inspired by the Cultural Revolution in China by Mao Zedong shook Hong Kong and sank the prices of the property.

His most symbolic coup as an entrepreneur may have occurred in 1979, when he bought control of the commercial house Hutchison Whampoa of Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Li negotiated discreetly with the bank, now called HSBC Holdings Plc , to buy Hutchison shares for less than half of their book value. HSBC agreed and Li became the first person of Chinese origin to own one of the British companies that dominated the local economy since the founding of the colony in 1841.

That reputation helped Li to venture into China, where He mixed great connections with financial interests. Li was a senior adviser to the Chinese government in the delivery of Great Britain in 1997 from Hong Kong and was part of the committee that drafted the Basic Law, the mini-constitution of the city under the Chinese government.

16-Hour Workday

its disadvantage too, particularly in the United States, when critics such as former Republican President Ronald Reagan's defense secretary, former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, expressed concern about the relationship of Li with China, allegations denied by Li's side. The concerns became real enough for a US national security review to frustrate Li's offer to buy part of Global Crossing Ltd., which operated a fixed line communications network in North America in 2003.

] Li maintains an intense schedule in his 80s, saying in a Bloomberg 2016 interview that he works up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week. Long after becoming a multi-millionaire, Li used a simple Seiko watch instead of a Rolex or other luxury brands preferred by his wealthy peers. In his 80s, he made a small improvement to a citizen that cost around $ 400, he told Bloomberg in 2016, but even then he chose something simple and lasting.

Li is no stranger to the tragedy. His wife died in 1990 and his son Victor was kidnapped in 1996. The kidnapper was arrested and executed in China.

Fighting against inequality

Then there was the inequality of Hong Kong, with which Li fought during his last years. [19659041] Li Ka-Shing: An in-depth interview, July 2016

"If the government sets policies through the emotive lens of populist sentiments, it might make you feel better, but it will not necessarily be better," Li said. in 2014. interview with the Chinese media group Caixin. "When a society is mired in discord, it will affect its economic vitality, which is not good for anyone."

In 2014, days before the beginning of democracy demonstrations led by students in Hong Kong, he traveled to Beijing and met with President Xi Jinping. After the protests began, Li urged the students and their supporters to go home, saying that their message had been heard.

– With the badistance of Daniela Wei

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