Asia's richest tycoon announces business empire overhaul

AP News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2015 6:06 AM

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, who has been Asia's richest person for nearly two decades, Friday announced a reorganization of his sprawling ports-to-mobile phone conglomerate into two new listed companies.

Li and members of his family control Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong and its affiliate Hutchison Whampoa. Through a series of stock transactions, the conglomerate will be rebirthed as a company overseeing all of its real estate assets and a second company for non-property businesses.

The 86-year-old Li said in a statement that the reorganization was a "watershed" moment which will result in better returns for shareholders. Investors dislike the existing corporate structure because it lumps together diverse businesses, making them hard to value.

The announcement also foreshadows a change in leadership, with Li expected to eventually hand the reins to his eldest son Victor.

Li has a fortune of $33.5 billion, according to Forbes. He is nicknamed Superman in Hong Kong for his money making abilities. His businesses operate in more than 50 countries and employ 270,000 people.