Who is Li Ka-Shing?
Sir Ka-Shing Li, GBM, KBE, JP (born 29 July 1928 in Chaozhou, China) is a Hong Kong business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. As of January 2018, Li is 23rd richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$37.7 billion.He is 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.
Li was one of the most influential entrepreneurs in Asia, presiding over a business empire with a diverse portfolio of businesses from a wide array of industries, including transportation, real estate, financial services, retail, and energy and utilities.His conglomerate company Cheung Kong Holdings was influential in many sectors of the Hong Kong economy and made up 4% of the aggregate 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 cultivated a reputation for leading a frugal no-frills lifestyle, and was known to wear simple black dress shoes and an inexpensive Seiko wristwatch. He lived in the same house for decades, in what has now become one of the most expensive districts in Hong Kong, Deep Water Bay in Hong Kong Island. Li was also regarded as one of Asia’s most generous philanthropists, donating over US$2.56 billion to charity and other various philanthropic causes. Li was often referred to as “Superman” in Hong Kong because of his business prowess.
Li Ka-shing was born in Chaozhou in Guangdong province, China, in 1928 to Teochew parents. 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 worked 22 hours a day. In 1950 he started his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. From manufacturing plastics, Li developed his company into a leading real estate investment company in Hong Kong that was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1971. Cheung Kong expanded by acquiring Hutchison Whampoa and Hongkong Electric Holdings Limited in 1979 and 1985 respectively.
In September 2017, Li Ka-shing was to join hands with Alibaba’s Jack Ma to bring a digital wallet service to Hong Kong.
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.
Li’s businesses cover almost every facet of life in Hong Kong not otherwise controlled by the People’s Republic of China, 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.
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.
Li is famously plainly dressed for a Hong Kong tycoon. In the 1990s he wore a $50 HKD timepiece from Citizen Watch Co. and plain ties. He later wore a Seiko. In 2016, he wore a $500 HKD Citizen watch.
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 a treadmill for fifteen minutes a day at noon.