At 84 years old, Li Kaishing is the richest person in Hong Kong with a net worth of 27 billion dollars all of which is self-made. Li’s father worked as a primary school principal and he was born in Chaozhou, Guangdong. He was forced to drop out of high school at the age of 15 and find work to support his entire family due to his father’s untimely death from tuberculosis. He found employment in a plastics manufacturing plant where he toiled away for 16 hours day as a wholesale salesman.
From his knowledge of working in plastics, in 1950 Li embarked on his first entrepreneurial enterprise by making plastic flowers, but before doing so he had to borrow money from family and friends. He also immersed himself in the trade publications of his industry, learning all of the facets of the business before he began meeting with foreign buyers.
After establishing success as a plastics manufacturer, which he named Cheung Kong, he then ventured into real estate in Hong Kong because he could not renew the lease on his building. During this period of his initial real estate investment, the Hong Kong riots took place, which caused many residents to abandon the city. Because of this, real estate prices declined in Hong Kong, creating a buying opportunity for Li.
In 1979, Cheung Kong purchased Hutchinson Whampoa Limited, which diversified the types of businesses he held. Hutchinson Whampoa gave him ownership of 13% of the ports across the world, stakes in hotels, retail businesses, energy infrastructure, and telecommunications. Cheung Kong Limited is today a multi-national conglomerate and has operations in 52 countries and has 260,000 employees. Today one seventh of the properties built in Hong Kong have come from Hutchinson Whampoa and 70% of Hong Kong’s ports are owned by the conglomerate.
Li Kaishing uses his wealth for philanthropic purposes, and he has donated a total of 1.55 billion US dollars to charitable enterprises. Of those 1.55 billion dollars, 63% of that money has been donated to the Mainland, 26% has been donated to Hong Kong and 11% overseas. The primary project types of his donations have been allocated to health care (43%), education (42%), culture(7%) and community (8%).
One of Li Kaishing’s biggest accomplishments from a charitable standpoint was creating Shantou University, which is near his hometown of Chaozhou. The university has nine colleges, including a medical college. It has a total of 7,500 undergraduate students and 1,500 graduate students.
Interesting Facts About Li Kaishing
- Hong Kong locals have nicknamed him Superman.
- Li is also an avid golfer
- Li is known to not flash his wealth and status by dressing down.
- Li has two sons, Richard and Victor, both of whom are active in the business operations