Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, said he will continue to buy his companies’ shares even after he stepped down as chairman.
He made the pledge on Thursday at the annual general meetings of his flagship firm CK Hutchison Holdings (0001.HK) and property arm CK Asset Holdings (1113.HK), the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The 89-year-old tycoon, dubbed as “Superman” in Hong Kong for his business acumen, announced on March 16 that he would step down as chairman and executive director of his business empire but stay on as a senior adviser after the meeting.
He passed the torch to his eldest son, Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, 53, who is regarded as a steady hand and unlikely to change course.
Li said that over the past 20 years he has only bought but not sold shares of CK Hutchison and CK Asset, and that he will continue to do so in his post-retirement days. He said he had told the same thing to his family members.
Calling himself a common shareholder, Li urged other shareholders to have faith in the group based on its past performances, saying he is very confident that its fixed income will keep increasing at a fast pace and shareholders can expect more, rather than less, dividends.
Li pointed out that since the two companies conduct multiple business activities, including some ongoing large projects whose success he is optimistic about, he will have to be very careful about the timing when it comes to buying their shares, otherwise, he might get himself into trouble and be accused of insider trading – unlike most shareholders who can do it without having such concerns.
He said if he had to sell his shares one day, his decision would surely be based on consideration of shareholders’ interest as a whole.
Asked if he plans to issue special dividends from the sale of interest in The Center at a record price, Li admitted that the transaction did make a huge profit but he decided to reinvest the money in buying top-class buildings overseas to be able to make more gains.
Li said the group will not undertake developments blindly or engaged in gambling-like speculative activities.
He said the right thing to do in the current environment is to increase fixed income, with a goal being making earnings per share higher than the dividends.
Regarding high-tech investments, Li revealed that the group has made use of artificial intelligence and benefited a lot from it with little invested, although he did not consider it proper to invest too much in the technology, in which he sees great potential risk.
Asked about his opinion on the so-called public-private partnership model, Li said he is in favor of the idea as it can help salaried workers to live with peace of mind.
The government aims to use the model to tap idle private farmland in the New Territories for residential development to alleviate the city’s housing shortage.
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