Date
25 March 2017
Li Ka-shing is one of the biggest investors in Britain, His flagship CK Hutchison group generated almost US$3 billion of its US$8 billion earnings -- before interest and taxes -- from Britain last year. Photo: AFP
Li Ka-shing is one of the biggest investors in Britain, His flagship CK Hutchison group generated almost US$3 billion of its US$8 billion earnings -- before interest and taxes -- from Britain last year. Photo: AFP

Li Ka-shing urges Britain to stay in EU on eve of vote

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is urging Britain to remain in the European Union on the eve of a June 23 referendum on its future in the bloc.

Li, one of Asia’s richest men with extensive interests in Europe, is warning that a vote to leave the union would be “detrimental” to the entire continent, according to Reuters.

He told Bloomberg TV there would be no winners in a Brexit but said he would keep his business interests whatever the result.

The interjection of Li — dubbed Superman because of his investment acumen that has built him a US$28 billion fortune — comes as a series of opinion polls put the “Leave” and “Remain” camps tied ahead of the vote.

“Of course I hope that the UK doesn’t leave the EU,” he said in the interview aired Tuesday and which was his first with international media since 2012.

“If Brexit happens, it will be detrimental to the UK and it will have a negative impact to the whole of Europe.”

Global markets went into a tailspin last week after some polls suggested the country would leave the EU.

But they have soared, along with the pound, since a fresh batch of surveys over the weekend pointed to a vote for the status quo.

There are fears among traders that an exit will plunge the British economy into recession, hammer the pound and even lead to similar ballots in other countries, causing the eventual break-up of the union.

Li, 87, is one of the biggest investors in Britain, owning the Three phone service, the Superdrug pharmacy chain and electric and gas distribution companies.

His flagship CK Hutchison group generated almost US$3 billion of its total US$8 billion earnings — before interest and taxes — from Britain last year, according to Reuters.

His warnings were supported by billionaire speculator George Soros.

Writing in the Guardian, Soros — who made a billion pounds out of Britain’s collapse from the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 24 years ago that became known as Black Wednesday — warned of a Black Friday.

“Sterling is almost certain to fall steeply and quickly if leave wins the referendum,” Soros wrote.

“I would expect this devaluation to be bigger and also more disruptive than the 15 percent devaluation that occurred in September 1992.”

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