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Li Ka-shing reported to be seeking sale of stake in ports business

Li Ka-shing reported to be seeking sale of stake in ports business
In more signs that the Hong Kong market is losing its lustre, renowned tycoon Li Ka-shing is reportedly considering a partial sale of his port assets, including the Hong Kong terminals, to a consortium of state-owned mainland Chinese companies, the South China Morning Post reported.

Quoting a close source, the report said talks for the sale of a 40% stake in Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH) had been ongoing with the four companies since the middle of last year but had been stalled over valuations. Li had reportedly wanted between HK$150bn ($19.3bn) and HK$160bn for the stake in the port business.

The buyers include the biggest names in Chinese ports, China Merchants Holdings (International), Cosco Pacific, China Shipping Terminal Development, as well as major investment firm State Investment & Development Corp.

Li has since the end of last year been actively restructuring his Hong Kong and mainland China assets in a widely talked move that many saw as a precursor to his exit from the market in favour of European businesses.

Li’s flagship Hutchison Whampoa has an 80% stake in HPH which has interests in 52 ports in 26 countries. Chinese port companies such as China Merchants and Cosco Pacific in recent years have been expanding aggressively abroad. An acquisition such as this could help springboard these ambitions dramatically.

Both Hutchison and China Merchants denied any substantial deal being discussed.