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Matthew Brooker

Hong Kong Tycoon Li Ka-shing’s Family Values Face Scrutiny

The clan’s sale of European assets to its property flagship would be a sweet deal. But independent shareholders might object. 

Li Ka-shing

Li Ka-shing

Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

The family of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is shuffling its corporate cards again, offering to sell $2.2 billion of privately held European infrastructure assets to the group’s listed property flagship CK Asset Holdings Ltd. The Li empire has run into difficulty with such exercises in the past, with minority shareholders rejecting a buyout of the group’s Asian power distributor in 2015. It may be risking a repeat.

In the deal, CK Asset would acquire stakes in four businesses, of which it already has ownership interests in three. The exception is a 20% holding in UK Power Networks, which supplies electricity to more than 8 million homes and businesses in London and the southeast and east of England, including Heathrow Airport. The others are a water distributor and a gas utility, both also in the U.K., and a Dutch company that converts waste into energy. Hong Kong-based CK Asset says the acquisition is a “rare” opportunity to acquire interests in high-quality assets that provide stable recurrent revenue and growth potential.