The Lounge: Li Ka Shing - Chairman, CK Hutchison Holdings

Published: Thursday, September 14, 2017

High school dropout billionaire finds solace in golf and reading

Li Ka Shing—Hong Kong’s richest man & one of the world’s with a net worth of over
$34 billion in 2017—has one of the most inspiring rags to riches stories ending with an
unusual way of spreading his wealth.

Li, who continues to live a modest lifestyle even wearing just a $500 watch, publicly announced he’s giving away a third of his money to philanthropy for humanity’s sake.

“Despite my achievements, I can still remember poverty. I told my children and grandchildren that ‘The fruit that you eat will never taste as beautiful as the fruit that I ate during the turmoil of war. You will never cherish it as much as I do,’” he was quoted in the media.

The 89-year-old self-made billionaire has already changed and touched the lives of millions in Asia and across the globe through the Li Ka Shing Foundation with more than 120 million students educated and over 107 million patients served. Li is indeed leaving a legacy full of hope for those who need it the most.

“If you have done your best to make meaningful contributions, when it is time for you to go, all you will feel is a little tired, just like when the sun sets, you need to take a rest. I just hope that I lead a full life,” said Li.

The entrepreneur

Li, a high school dropout now owns one of the world’s leading container terminal and port services operators with holding interests in 52 ports in 26 countries, which is also into retail, energy, telecoms and real estate industries, the CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. (formerly Hutchison Whampoa), listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In 2016, the company reported a turnover of $48 billion.

Li is also one of the first investors on Facebook buying $120 million worth of shares when it was just starting.

Born on July 29, 1928, his family was forced to leave their home in Chiu Chow in Guangzhou Province in the 1940s amid the Japanese invasion of China.

They fled to Hong Kong where his father later died of tuberculosis, leaving Li the responsibility of providing for their family before reaching the age of 15. He found a job in a plastics trading factory working for 16 hours a day.

Those days of hard labor ignited Li’s entrepreneurial spirit such that by 22, he had managed to set up his own business, the Cheung Kong Industries, through his meager savings and loans from relatives. Today, CK Group employs more than 300,000.

With the success of his plastic flowers factory, Li invested heavily in HK properties, expanding his business empire to real estate later listed and traded in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972.

Li continued expanding his business acquiring Hutchison Whampoa and Hong Kong Electric Holdings Limited (renamed Power Assets Holdings Limited) in 1979 and 1985, respectively.

Ernst & Young UK and the Times jointly named Li as the “Entrepreneur of the Millennium” at the turn of the century.

Staying Healthy

Despite his vast wealth, Li prefers to live a simple life. He lives in the same house with his two sons and their families. He says he remains physically fit through exercise, good sleep and golf.

The self-made billionaire philanthropist says he gets up every day before 6 am and plays golf for about an hour and a half—a routine more than a hobby.

“I wake up every day just before 6am and exercise and play golf for an hour and a half. I insist on reading before I go to bed at night. I am still energetic during the day. Your energy comes from being interested in your work,” Li was quoted in the media.

The Asian tycoon says he also walks on the treadmill at least 15 minutes a day at noon to stay healthy.

Li who loves flying and traveling also spends time seeing different destinations via his private jet, the Gulfstream G550, or cruising with his yacht.

“I wasn’t lucky. I worked hard to achieve the goals I set for myself,” Li said in one of his most famous quotes.