With a net worth of almost US $30 billion, Li Ka-Shing is today the richest man in Hong Kong. However, the story of his entrepreneurial journey is something that we can take inspiration from in every aspect of our lives. Li was born on June 13, 1928 in Chaozhou, Guangdong, China.
Early childhood and his initial foray into entrepreneurship
By the mere age of 15, Li had experienced unimaginable turmoil of war that compelled his family to take refuge in Hong Kong and the tragedy of his father’s death caused by tuberculosis. Such trials and tribulations at a young age shaped him into the business tycoon that he was to become one day.
Li started working at his uncle’s plastic watch-strap company when he was only 12 years old to support his family and by the age of 14, he had a full-time job at a plastic trading company. Owing to the knowledge and craftsmanship of plastic he learnt throughout the years, he left his job at the age of 22 to start a company of his own that manufactured plastic toys. The company Cheung Kong forayed into manufacturing plastic flowers later on.
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Expansion into real estate, acquisitions and more
With the huge influx of refugees in Hong Kong during the 1950s, Li leveraged the situation to tap into commercial real estate market. What started off as a small plastic toy manufacturing company soon evolved towards real estate development including retail, industrial and hotel properties.
Li’s firm acquired a stake in Hutchison Whampoa in 1979 and over the next decade, he initiated multiple ties with leading companies owing to which, he was addressed as the ‘Superman’ in those days. By early 90s, Li gained great prominence not only in Hong Kong’s realty market, but also in electric utilities, port traffic and telecommunication network.
In 1986, Li’s business empire expanded to Canada with its stake in Husky Energy and ultimately fully acquiring the firm. Likewise, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was also acquired by Cheung Kong. In 1990s, Li forayed into the UK through the Orange mobile phone network.
However, the diversification of Li’s investments and acquisitions didn’t end there. Witnessing the immense growth potential of the tech industry which was at a nascent age, Li set up Horizons Venture in 2006. The business magnate made his first big bet in tech in the year 2007 by investing around US $60 million in Facebook when the latter was just three years old.
Besides his business ventures through Li Ka-Shing Foundation which was established in 1980s, Li has been also carrying out several philanthropic activities however, his goal was to boost the education and healthcare sector across the world. In 2006, he announced that he would give away one-third of his wealth to the foundation.
Li retired from his key business responsibilities in 2018, the position of which was taken over by his elder son Victor. Today, CK Holdings has its operations in over 50 countries with almost 4 lakh employees.
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