Li Ka-shing : Hardworking,Frugal & Steadfast


wealthymatters.comThe Honourable Li Ka-shing GBM, KBE, JP (nickname “Superman”) stands 11th in the Forbes List with an estimated wealth of US$26.0 billion.He is the wealthiest person of East Asian descent.

Li is a product of adversity.He sees himself as a gnarled tree firmly rooted among the rocks of a mountain slope.Whenever he has found himself beset by troubles he has found himself “upto”dealing”with it.He describes himself as hardworking, frugal, steadfast,willing to learn and build a credible name.These qualities have taken him very far indeed in life.Presently, he is the Chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL) and Cheung Kong Holdings; through them, he is the world’s largest operator of container terminals(including those in Hong Kong, Vancouver, Canada, China, UK, Rotterdam,Panama, Bahamas etc.- in all, his business controls 13% of all container port capacity in the world) and the world’s largest health and beauty retailer(a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa, the A.S. Watson Group is a leading retail operator with over 7,800 stores whose portfolio encompasses popular retail brands in Europe such as Superdrug (UK), Marionnaud (France), Kruidvat (Benelux countries), and in Asia including health & beauty specialist Watson’s Your Personal Store, PARKnSHOP supermarkets, Great Food Hall, TASTE food galleria, gourmet boutique style fine food hall, Fortress electrical appliance stores, Watson’s Wine Cellars and Nuance-Watson airport duty free shops. ASW is also a major producer and distributor of water products and beverages in the region with Watsons Water the top selling brand in Hong Kong). His companies make up 15% of the market cap of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.In fact the story goes that out of every dollar spent in Hong Kong, 5c goes into Li Ka-shing’s cash-registers.His business empire 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 is also  one of Asia’s most generous philanthropists, donating over US $1.41 billion to date to various philanthropic causes.

Li Ka-shing’s name is familiar to Indians who read the pink papers as it was frequently mentioned in the Indian Press in early 2007 when Vodafone  agreed to acquire the controlling interest of 67% held by Li Ka-shing Holdings in Hutch-Essar.Here is a brief recap:In 1992, Hutchison Whampoa and its Indian business partner – Max Group, established a company that in 1994 was awarded a licence to provide mobile telecommunications services in Mumbai and launched commercial services as Hutchison Max in November 1995.In 2000 the company acquired a presence in the Delhi,Kolkata and Gujarat markets through it’s Essar acquisition.Then in 2001 it won the auction for licences to operate GSM services in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Chennai.In 2003 it acquired AirCel Digilink (ADIL — ESSAR Subsidiary) which operated in Rajastan, Uttar Pradesh( East) and Haryana telecom circles and rebranded it ‘Hutch’.In 2004 the company launched operations in three additional telecom circles of India namely Punjab, Uttar Pradesh (West) and West Bengal.Thus by the time of Hutchison Telecom’s Initial Public Offering in 2004, Hutchison Whampoa had acquired interests in six mobile telecommunications operators providing service in 13 of India’s 23 licence areas and following the completion of the acquisition of BPL Mobile in 2005 that number increased to 16. In 2006, it announced the acquisition of a company (Essar Spacetel — A subsidiary of Essar Group) that held licence applications for the seven remaining licence areas.In February 2007, Hutchison Telecom announced that it had entered into a binding agreement with a subsidiary of Vodafone Group Plc to sell its 67% direct and indirect equity and loan interests in Hutchison Essar Limited for a total cash consideration (before costs, expenses and interests) of approximately $11.1 billion.

Hutchison Whampoa group has the reputation of being an astute asset trader. It frequently builds up new businesses and sells them off.Initially, In India too,the company along with it’s partner  grew its business in the largest wireless markets in India — in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. In these densely populated urban areas it was able to establish a robust network, well known brand and large distribution network – all vital to long-term success in India. Then it also targeted business users and high-end post-paid customers which helped Hutchison Essar to consistently generate a higher Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) than its competitors. By adopting this focused growth plan, it was able to establish leading positions in India’s largest markets providing the resources to expand its footprint nationwide.It had invested roughly $2 billion in the process and Vodafone paid them $11.1 billion.

Below is a documentary on the life of Li Ka-shing.Do watch it.

About Keerthika Singaravel
Engineer,Investor,Businessperson

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