Li Ka-shing, GBM, KBE, JP (李嘉诚, born 29 July 1928 in Chaozhou, China) is a Hong Kong business magnate and investor. According to Forbes, as of March 2016 Li is the richest person in Hong Kong and the second richest person in Asia, with an estimated net worth of US$27.1 billion. He is currently the chairman of the board for CK Hutchison Holdings; through it, he is the world’s leading port investor, developer, and operator, and the largest health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe.
Considered one of the most powerful figures in Asia, Li was named “Asia’s Most Powerful Man, Li Ka-Shing” by Asiaweek in 2001. His companies make up 4% of the market capitalisation 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.
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.”
In 1950, after learning how to operate a plant, Li founded a plastic manufacturing company in Hong Kong with personal savings and funds borrowed from relatives. 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 the plant for a visit from 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.
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$1,193 billion (US$154 billion) as of April 2016. (This includes the Group’s controlling stake in 15 listed companies around the world.) The Group operates in over 50 countries and employs around 300,000 staff worldwide.
In 2013 a claim was lodged by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) against Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI) to pay approximately A$370 million in unpaid tax, penalties and interest relating to tax disputes concerning SA Power Networks and Victoria Power Networks.
The dispute was resolved in 2015 when CKI entered into an agreement with the ATO. No penalty was levied against CKI and a sum of approximately A$24 million was refunded from the A$64 million previously paid to the ATO by CTI.
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.
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 Co-Managing Director and Deputy Chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, while Richard Li is the head of PCCW, the largest telecom company in Hong Kong. They are both Canadian citizens.