Qatar Fund Buys $1.2 Billion Stake in Hong Kong Utility

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Li Ka-shing
Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. Chairman Li Ka-shing. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg

Qatar Investment Authority, the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, agreed to pay HK$9.3 billion ($1.2 billion) to buy a stake in Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s electric utility as it boosts investments in Asia.

The fund’s Qatar Holding LLC unit will acquire a total 19.9 percent interest in HK Electric Investments & HK Electric Investments Ltd., controlled by Li’s Power Assets Holdings Ltd., according to a statement from the Hong Kong-based company.

Qatar, which has invested in assets from German automaker Volkswagen AG to American Express Co.’s business-travel division, plans to put as much as $20 billion into Asia in the next five years and expand offices in Beijing and New Delhi. It agreed in December to raise its stake in Hong Kong department store operator Lifestyle International Holdings Ltd.

The deal for HK Electric allows Power Assets to retain control of the utility, which supplies electricity to about 568,000 customers in the city, and allow it to pursue acquisitions.

Qatar acquired a 16.53 percent stake from Power Assets, and a 3.37 percent holding from Li’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd., Power Assets said.

China Investments

Qatar said in November it plans to set up a $10 billion investment venture with China’s Citic Group as part of its plans to pour money into the region. The fund is an investor in Citic Capital Holdings Ltd., an alternative investment company backed by the state-owned Citic Group and China’s sovereign-wealth fund and focused on private equity in Japan, China and the U.S. and real estate in China.

Power Assets raised HK$24.1 billion in the initial public offering of HK Electric last year. Li has a net worth of $35.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and is Hong Kong’s richest man.

Qatar, the richest country in the world on a per-capita basis, has deployed surplus income from liquefied natural gas exports into real estate, banks, and automakers. Qatar Holding, the foreign investment arm of the fund, has invested in luxury hotels in Cannes and Amsterdam as well buying stakes in Barclays Plc and Credit Suisse Group AG.

Qatar Holding was advised by Perella Weinberg Partners and Credit Suisse Group AG on the HK Electric deal.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to remove references to Li as Asia’s richest man.)

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