Friday, April 20, 2012

Where Asia's Richest Man is Putting His Money

Even at 83, Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, gets more done by lunch than people half his age pull off in a full day. By the time I meet him he’s already mowed through his daily breakfast of congee and vegetables, a thorough read of the international news and a round of golf near the home he has lived in for the past 50 years.

Ensconced in his office atop the ­Cheung Kong Center in central Hong Kong, which boasts a private pool and one of the world’s fastest elevator rides (70 stories in an ear-popping 45 seconds), he exudes serenity. “A person investing in technology will feel younger,” he smiles, his signature black square glasses dancing on his nose.
For the entire quarter-century that Forbes has been measuring global billionaires, Li has controlled a huge swath of the teeming city of 7 million people below. Li’s companies have built one in every seven residences here, handle 70 per cent of Hong Kong’s port traffic and hold big market shares in electric utilities and mobile phone service. His success in mainland China–notably retail and real estate – is also impressive.
But for the first time – he hasn’t granted an interview to the Western media in nearly five years – Li is opening up about the most surprising chapter in a remarkable career: the recent technology investments that have catapulted him into the Yuri Milner-like ranks of visionaries whose mere participation can help ensure a startup’s success.
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