“Li Ka-shing” was probably the hottest search key word on the internet yesterday after the Nanfang Daily, a newspaper based in China’s southern Guangdong province, carried an exclusive interview with the Hong Kong business tycoon.
In an apparent bid to clarify that he has no plans to pull out his investments from Hong Kong and China, Hong Kong’s richest man has taken what may be his most original initiative yet as he granted a one-on-one interview to a mainland media outlet.
His choice of granting such rare opportunity to a mainland newspaper, instead of Hong Kong media, shows that he wants to tell the Chinese people, especially the nation’s top leaders, that he has full confidence in the economic prospects of Hong Kong and China, observers say.
Li’s plans to sell his ParknShop supermarket and Watson chain store businesses earlier this year had raised some concerns in Beijing that top-tier investors could be looking to leave Hong Kong and China amid slowing growth in the world’s second largest economy. There were worries that capital outflow will result in a slide in asset prices and renminbi depreciation.
Rumors had circulated in the recent past that Li may consider changing the domicile of his group flagship firms, Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. (00001.HK) and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (00013.HK). The tycoon denied in September that he had any such plans.
In the interview published Thursday, Li described the rumors as a big joke. He reiterated that he and his investments will not leave Hong Kong, which is his home.
Observers say Li’s latest interview has served the purpose of comforting the top Chinese leaders while helping strengthen the tycoon’s image as a responsible entrepreneur and philanthropist in the Chinese community.
CNPC buys 25% interest in Iraq oilfield
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has agreed to acquire a 25 percent stake in Iraq’s West Qurna 1 oilfield from US-based ExxonMobil, Xinhua reported Thursday. According to CNPC, the deal will create synergy with its other energy projects in Iraq as well as cement its presence in the area. West Qurna is about 50 kilometers northwest of Basra and is one of the largest oilfields in the world.
About 6,000 firms in line to enter Shanghai FTZ
About 6,000 firms are waiting in line to gain access to the Shanghai free trade zone, on top of the 1,396 domestic firms and 38 foreign firms that have already secured entry into the zone as of Friday last week, Xinhua news agency reported, citing information given by the zone’s management commission at a news conference Thursday. The largest company allowed in the zone so far is the International Energy Trade Centre with registered capital of 5 billion yuan (US$820.66 million).
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