The Rags to Riches Story of Li Ka-Shing

On this day, July 29 in the year 1928, the man who lorded over the business landscape of Hong Kong for many decades was born in Guangdong, China. His name is Li Ka-Shing, the retired CEO of two large conglomerates, Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa. According to, he is the 35th richest in the world with a net worth of $26 billion as of July, 2020.

Li Ka Shing
Li Ka Shing (Credit:

Li is the son of a former school principal who died of tuberculosis when Li was only 15 years old. He quit high school and fled to Hong Kong where he worked in a plastic factory. Later, he founded a small company exporting plastic toys and flowers using funds he borrowed from friends and relatives. Through hard work and perseverance, he expanded the business to include almost all the facets of life in Hong Kong including electricity, telecommunication, port and airport operation, retail, hotel and property development, cement, internet, and banking.

Li has been an astute trader of assets. He invests in a business and later sells it at huge profit. For example, in 1999, he divested his stake in Britain’s Orange mobile phone network and booked a $15 billion profit. Also in 2006, he sold 20% of Hutchison’s port operation to PSA of Singapore at a $3.12 billion profit. The following year, he made a profit of almost $9 billion when he sold his controlling stake in India’s Hutchison Essar to British Vodafone Group.

As a philanthropist, Li made donations to several universities such as Shantou University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Singapore Management University, University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, National University of Singapore, University of Alberta, McGill University, and Guangdong Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Guangdong Province, China.

Li has sons, Victor and Richard, with her only wife Chong Yuet Ming who died in 1990. Victor and Richard are both Canadian Citizens.


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