Cheung Kong Losing Luster for Billionaire Li: Chart

Li Ka-shing is buying the fewest shares of his flagship Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. in at least eight years as he considers selling assets in Hong Kong, the city that helped make him Asia’s richest person.

The CHART OF THE DAY tracks Li’s monthly purchases in the company he founded against the stock’s weekly performance since June 2005. The 85-year-old, nicknamed “Superman” by the local media for his investing acumen, bought HK$28.3 million ($3.6 million) of shares since September 2012. That’s the smallest amount for any 12-month period since at least 2005, according to filings with the city’s stock exchange.

Li owns a 43 percent stake worth $16 billion in Cheung Kong, the property company that got all its revenue from Hong Kong and China last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Li, whose family fled the mainland in 1940 to the then-British colony to escape Japanese invaders, is probably amassing ammunition for more investments in Europe, said Wee Liat Lee, an analyst at BNP Paribas SA in Hong Kong.

“He believes Europe’s growth prospect is better than Hong Kong,” Lee said. “He’s a very long-term investor; when he decides to invest, he’s expecting to be rewarded four or five times his capital.”

European assets in Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., the ports-to-retailers company controlled by Cheung Kong, rose to 51 percent of the total in 2012 from 42 percent in 2008. Hong Kong’s share declined to 16 percent from 20 percent in the same period. The gap could widen as the billionaire plans to spin off his Hong Kong electricity business and may sell the ParknShop supermarket group. Li is also mulling the spinoff of the A.S. Watson health and beauty chain, Hong Kong Economic Times reported last week.

Earnings from property sales at Cheung Kong fell about 37 percent in the first half of the year as the government stepped up curbs to cool real estate transactions. Cheung Kong and Hutchison account for 12 percent of the MSCI Hong Kong Index by market value, down from 23 percent a decade ago. No one was immediately available for comment at Cheung Kong. Li is worth $28.9 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, making him the world’s 18th-richest person.