Li Ka-shing Net Worth & Biography

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Introduction

Li Ka-shing is a Hong Kong business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. In 2019, Li was the 30th richest person in the world, with an estimated net wealth of US$29.4 billion. He is the senior advisor for CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset Holdings, after he retired from the Chairman of the Board in May 2018; through it, he is the world's leading port investor, developer, and operator of the largest health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe.

Li is 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 is 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. As of , Li Ka-shing has an estimated net worth of about $38B.

At a Glance

Full name: Sir Ka-shing Li GBM KBE JP

Other names: Li Ka-shing, Superman Li.

Birthday: 13 June 1928

Age:

Net worth: $38B

Occupation: Business Magnate, Investor.

Nationality: Canadian, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

Net Worth

$38B

In spite of his wealth, Li has cultivated a reputation for leading a frugal no-frills lifestyle, and is 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 is also regarded as one of Asia's most generous philanthropists, donating billions of dollars to charity and other various philanthropic causes, and owning the second largest private foundation in the world after Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Li is often referred to as "Superman Li" in Hong Kong because of his business prowess. As of , Li Ka-shing has an estimated net worth of about $38B.

Early life

Li was born in Chao'an, Chaozhou in Guangdong Province in 1928 to Teochew parents. Li and his family fled to Hong Kong in 1940 as refugees from the Sino-Japanese war. Owing to his father's death from tuberculosis, he was forced to leave school before the age of 15 and found a job in a plastics trading company where he worked 16 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 1972. Cheung Kong expanded by acquiring Hutchison Whampoa and Hongkong Electric Holdings Limited in 1979 and 1985 respectively.

Favorite Quotes From Li-Ka Shing

“You can believe in Fung Shui if you want, but ultimately people control their own fate. The most important thing is to improve yourself and give it your best. Then many things previously thought to be impossible will become possible.” – Li-Ka Shing
“Times were really tough in the beginning. When I started my business in 1950, I only had HK$50,000, so I was in a tight spot financially.” – Li-Ka Shing
“I was already keeping an eye on the political developments within China, and I also had a firm grasp on economics, industry, management and the latest development and productions of the plastics industry. Not many people in Hong Kong at that time were aware of the potential. It was still quite new.” – Li-Ka Shing
“Doing business may be tough, but I am willing to learn, to innovate, and to work hard, which are the reasons why my business can continue to grow. We focus on our core competencies while looking for new areas for expansion. New businesses sometimes fail, and sometimes succeed. But the ones that succeed can be very profitable. This has been my experience. Setbacks and difficulties are ways to build character.” – Li-Ka Shing
“First of all, I am an optimist. When you study hard and work hard, your knowledge grows, and it gives you confidence. The more you know, the more confidence you gain. When I was 10 years old, I lost my schooling, but I still had plenty of hope to return to school.” – Li-Ka Shing
“Despite my achievements, I can still remember poverty. I told my children and grandchildren that ‘The fruit that you eat will never taste as beautiful as the fruit that I ate during the turmoil of war. You will never cherish it as much as I do.” – Li-Ka Shing

Business career

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.

Plastics manufacturing: 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.

Real estate: In 1958, believing rents would continue to rise, Li decided to purchase a site and develop his own factory building. An opportunity to acquire more land arrived after the 1967 riots when many people fled Hong Kong, and, as a result, property prices plummeted. Li believed the political crisis would be temporary and property prices would eventually rise, and bought land from the fleeing residents at low prices. In 1971, Li officially named his real estate development company Cheung Kong (長江實業). Cheung Kong Holdings was publicly listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972. During board meetings, Li stated on a number of occasions his goal of surpassing the Jardines-owned Hongkong Land as a leading developer.

The successful bid by Cheung Kong for development sites above the Central and Admiralty MTR stations in 1977 was the key to challenging Hongkong Land as the premier property developer in Hong Kong. Despite its size, Jardines decided in the 1980s to protect itself from hostile takeover by Li or other outside investors. The company implemented a cross-shareholding structure that was designed to place control in the hands of Britain's Keswick family despite their less than 10% holdings in the group. In 1984, the company also moved its legal domicile from Hong Kong to another British overseas territory – Bermuda, in anticipation of the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to People's Republic of China in 1997.

In an effort to drive forward divestitures of assets in Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland, Li agreed to sell The Center, the fifth-tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong. With a value of HK$40.2 billion (US$5.15 billion), the deal constitutes the biggest ever office space real estate sale in the Asia-Pacific region. Li sold the Century Link complex in Shanghai for US$2.95 billion, the second largest transaction for a single building, according to the Financial Times.

In 1979, Li purchased a major stake in Hutchison Whampoa Company Limited from Hong Kong Bank through Cheung Kong.

Retail: A subsidiary of CK Hutchison, the A.S. Watson Group (ASW), is a retail operator with over 15,000 stores. Its portfolio encompasses retail brands in Europe such as Superdrug (UK), Marionnaud (France), Kruidvat (Benelux countries), and in Asia including health and beauty retailer Watson's store and wine cellars et al., PARKnSHOP supermarkets (and spin-off brands), and Fortress electrical appliance stores. ASW also produces and distributes water products and beverages in the region.

Asset trading

CK Hutchison group has the reputation of being an astute asset trader. It builds up new businesses and sells them off when shareholder value could be created. Huge profits were obtained in the sale of its interest in Orange to Mannesmann Group in 1999, making a profit of $15.12 billion. In 2006 Li sold 20% of Hutchison's ports business to Singapore rival PSA Corp., making a $3.12 billion profit on a $4 billion deal.

Group subsidiary Hutchison Telecommunications sold a controlling stake of 67% in Hutchison Essar, a joint venture Mobile operator in India, to Vodafone for $11.1 billion.

Internet and technology

Li has also made a foray into the technology business, where his investment and venture capital firm Horizons Ventures is specifically allocated towards backing new internet and technology startup firms, and bought a stake in doubleTwist. His other firm, the Li Ka Shing Foundation bought a 0.8% stake in social networking website Facebook for $120 million in two separate rounds, and invested an estimated $50 million in the music streaming service Spotify. Some time between late 2009 and early 2010, Li Ka-shing led a $15.5 million Series B round of financing for Siri Inc.

In 2011, Horizons Ventures invested in Summly, a website-summarizing app. Notably, the investment made Nick D'Aloisio, Summly's founder, the world's youngest person to receive a venture capital investment at just fifteen years old. In 2012, Horizons Ventures invested $2.3 million in Wibbitz, a company that provides a text-to-video technology that can automatically convert any article post or feed on the web into a video in a matter of seconds. In August 2012, Li acquired a stake in Ginger Software Incorporated. In 2013, Horizons Ventures invested in Bitcoin payment company BitPay.

In February 2015, Horizons Ventures participated in a $30 million Series C funding round in Zoom Video Communications. Later in the year, Li participated in a $108 million Series D round in Impossible Foods. In 2016, he continued investments in technology companies and Horizons Ventures led a $55 million Series A round in Blockstream, the leader in blockchain related technologies, and also invested in a startup incubator fund Expa, that works with the founders to build new companies.

In September 2017, Li worked with Alibaba's Jack Ma to bring AlipayHK, a digital wallet service to Hong Kong.

Charities

The Li Ka Shing Foundation was established in 1980 to work on education, medical services and research initiatives. To date, Li has invested over HK$27 billion across 27 countries and regions, with about 80% of the projects within the Greater China region.

Li's donation in 1981 resulted in the founding of Shantou University (STU) and the Shantou University Medical College, near his hometown of Chaozhou. Li has earmarked grants and contributions of over HK$12 billion to develop STU. In 2013, Li granted US$130 million to establish the Guangdong Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Guangdong Province as a joint venture between Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Shantou University.

In September 2001, the newest tower in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University was named after Li, following a HK$100 million donation to the University.

The Li Ka Shing Centre in Cambridge, England, houses a Cancer Research UK facility, which is a part of the University of Cambridge. The Centre was named after Mr. Li following a £5.3 million donation, and was opened in his presence in May 2002. The Li Ka Shing Foundation endowed a professorship of oncology at the university in 2007 with a subsequent gift of £2 million.

In November 2002, the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in China was founded with a large donation from the Li Ka Shing Foundation.

The Li Ka Shing Library at the Singapore Management University is also named in his honour after a US$11.5 million donation in 2002 to the higher education institution.

After the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake disaster, Li reportedly pledged a total of US$3 million.

In 2005, Li announced a HK$1 billion (US$128 million) donation to the Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong. It was renamed to Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine on 1 January 2006, which provoked controversy between the university and quite a number of alumni of the faculty, notably Kwok Ka Ki, over the university's naming procedures.

Also in 2005, Li donated US$40 million to the University of California, Berkeley, citing that he was impressed with the university's accomplishments in the biosciences. In recognition of Li's donation, the university has named the campus' new biosciences facility the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, which opened in October 2011.

In 2014, The Li Ka Shing Foundation provided a US$10 million gift to support UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco to jointly launch the Innovative Genomics Initiative (IGI), based on a new technology discovered at UC Berkeley by Professor Jennifer A. Doudna, executive director of the initiative. In the same year, the Li Ka Shing Foundation has also provided $3 million to Stanford University for exploring new ways of utilising biomedical data to improve human health.

A long-time supporter of Stanford University since the 1980s, Li is the principal benefactor to the US$90 million Li Ka-shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, which opened in Fall 2010 and is now the headquarters for the Stanford University School of Medicine.

On 9 March 2007, Li Ka-shing contributed SGD$100 million to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in the National University of Singapore. Also, "to honour and recognize Dr. Li's support and generosity, LKY SPP will name one of its three buildings at the historic Bukit Timah Campus after him".

Li Ka-shing donated C$25 million to St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto to found the Li Ka-Shing Knowledge Institute, which will serve as a medical research and education centre in downtown Toronto.

Li Ka-shing donated C$28 million to the University of Alberta to found the Li Ka-shing Institute of Virology.

Li Ka-shing donated HK$160 million (US$20.6 million) to aid relief efforts in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake

Li Ka-shing donated C$6.6 million to McGill University in 2013 to establish three exchange programs: the Li Ka Shing Initiative for Innovation in Legal Education, the Li Ka Shing Liberal Arts Exchange Initiative and the Li Ka Shing Program in International Business between McGill and Shantou University.

In 2013, Li Ka-shing donated US$2 million to the University of California, San Francisco to support their advance precision medicine initiative. The funds will be used to build a worldwide network of clinicians and researchers, launch leadership exchanges between UCSF and China, and create a systems-pharmacology program to develop more precise medications.

With a donation from Li of over HK$3 billion, Tsz Shan Monastery was developed over a period of ten years as an institute of Chinese Buddhist practice and education as well as a place for spiritual contemplation. It was opened to the public in April 2015.

(Hong Kong, 28 April 2015) In the aftermath of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal and its neighboring regions, the Foundation has made a donation of US$1 million from its Just in Time Fund to provide immediate aid to help ease human suffering and to support ongoing relief efforts in Nepal.

In 2017 Li Ka Shing Foundation  donated US$3 million (A$3.75 million) to the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research (UMCCR) (Australia) for precision oncology. The goal of this donation is to help accelerate the pace of discovery and increase the knowledge used to diagnose and treat cancer.

In 2017, with the support of a £20 million gift from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, Oxford University launched the Big Data Institute. The centre gathers researchers to analyse worldwide biomedical data and catalyze the development of new treatments for cancer, Alzheimer's and several infectious diseases.

In 2018 Li Ka Shing donated HK$10 million to Food Angel, a program that provides hot meals for people in need.

In 2018 Li Ka Shing Foundation and CK Hutchison Holdings donated US$5 million for Palu-Donggala disaster relief, after Tsunami and Earthquake in Indonesia.

The Foundation funded the world's first circumnavigation of the Antarctic by a robot from January to August 2019. The 23-foot autonomous sailing drone carried instruments of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in an effort to enhance climate data collection so as to improve understanding of the Antarctic carbon cycle and as a test for a roll-out of up to 1,000 craft worldwide.

Philanthropic activities

Following his retirement, Li has devoted his attention to supporting various philanthropic efforts, primarily through the Li Ka Shing Foundation. Recent activities include:

Creating HK$1 billion Crunch Time Instant Relief Fund to support embattled SMEs in Hong Kong impacted by the economic downturn—October 2019.

Sponsoring the Future Now excursion to Australia for an experimental education and exchange program—September 2019.

The establishment of the Institute for Synthetic Biology at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology with a HK$500 million donation—August 2019.

Committing grants and contributions of over HK$12 billion to Shantou University and the Shantou University Medical College since its founding in 1981. Recent commitments include RMB 100 million annually to offer full-tuition academic scholarships for all undergraduate students starting with the incoming class of 2019 – June 2019. (Long-term project)

Opening of the Tsz Shan Monastery Buddhist Art Museum at the Tsz Shan Monastery, which has received over HK$3 billion in funding since 2003 for its development and operations—March 2019. (Long-term project)

Donating HK$10 million to introduce of a transcatheter cardiovascular interventions subsidy program at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital—March 2019.

Providing US$2 million in funding scale socio-economic impact through technological disruption and innovation in Zhejiang and Shanghai—February 2019.

Contributing US$1 million to support Saildrone's Antarctic circumnavigation, while making the real-time data available to students for next-gen ocean research—January 2019.

A$4.5 million to the University of Sydney to support Australia's first clinical trial testing CAR T-cell immunotherapy in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer—November 2018.

Providing HK$100 million in financial assistance to Hong Kong patients who fall outside of government medical funding programs as part of the Love Can Help initiativeAugust 2018.

Annual Funding of RMB 52 million to support the Heart of Gold Nationwide Hospice Service Program, with has received RMB 680 million in aggregate funding since 2001 – July 2018. (Long-term project)

In 2020, the Li Ka Shing Foundation has supported the global fight against COVID-19 by sourcing protection gear from around the world and funding medical research and services. To date, HK$180 million has been used for relief efforts, including making a donation of HK$100 million to support the frontline medics in Wuhan.