Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing plans US blank-cheque company

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HONG KONG – Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest property tycoon, is planning to raise funds for dealmaking by listing a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) in the US, people with knowledge of the matter said.

A company backed by Mr Li’s family is working with advisers on the potential Spac initial public offering, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. They are considering seeking around US$400 million (S$527.9 million), though the exact terms haven’t been finalized, the people said.

The blank-cheque company could file registration documents with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as soon as this week, the people said.

The Spacs craze that has taken Street by storm has spread to Asia. A Spac is a shell company set up by venture capitalists and other professional investors – but lately, also by sports celebrities and former politicians – whose sole purpose is to raise to other companies. Retail and institutional investors invest in the shell, without knowing what it will end up buying.

Mr Li’s younger son, Richard, has already raised about US$900 million via two US-listed Spacs with tech mogul Peter Thiel. Richard is considering setting up a third blank-cheque company, Bloomberg reported last week.

Mr Li is lionized by the public in Hong Kong, where he’s been nicknamed “Superman” for his investing prowess. The 92-year-old businessman became famous for his well-timed bets on everything from real estate to as he built a corporate empire spanning 50 countries.

His family controls CK Hutchison Holdings, a US$29 billion conglomerate that owns one of the world’s biggest port operators and has telecommunications, retail and infrastructure operations across Asia and Europe. They also run CK Asset Holdings, which is one of Hong Kong’s largest developers and also has investments in hotels, utilities and aircraft leasing. Both companies are now led by Mr Li’s elder son, Victor.

No final decisions have been made, and details of the transaction could change, the people said. Representatives for Li didn’t immediately respond to emailed queries.

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