Mr Li Ka-shing, Chairman of the Cheung Kong Group (www.ckh.com.hk and www.hutchison-whampoa.com) was born in 1928 in Chiu Chow, historically known as Swátōw or Suátao) in coastal Eastern Guangdong, China. When he was 12, and together with his family, Mr Li fled to Hong Kong to avoid the perils of war, where shortly thereafter his father suffered from tuberculosis and passed away. As the eldest son, Mr Li had no choice but to leave school to shoulder the responsibility of the family. He found a job in a plastics trading company, where he laboured under the weight of poverty.
By 1950, through hard work, prudence, and a determination to make a difference, Mr Li founded his own small start-up, Cheung Kong Industries. He named his company Cheung Kong after the Yangtze River that flows through China, a great river that aggregates countless streams and tributaries. From manufacturing plastics, Mr Li built and developed his company into a leading real estate investment company in Hong Kong that was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972. Cheung Kong Holdings acquired Hutchison Whampoa and Hong Kong Electric Holdings Limited in 1979 and 1985 respectively.
With its Headquarters in Hong Kong, Cheung Kong Group is a global company whose interests span real estate development, telecommunications and technology, finance and investments, energy and infrastructure.
Mr Li’s ties with Canada began in the late 1960s. His many investments in Canada include Husky Energy, Inc where Mr Li and Hutchison Whampoa Limited are the majority shareholders. Under Mr Li’s management, Husky underwent a series of reforms and was revitalized into one of Canada’s largest integrated energy and energy-related companies, with upstream, midstream and downstream segments operating from Western Canada, to offshore Canada’s East Coast, the United States, China, Indonesia and Greenland.
Mr Li also invested in CIBC 30 years ago. In early 2005, Mr Li disposed his entire stake and dedicated all of the proceeds to the work of his charitable foundations. At the same time, he established the Li Ka Shing (Canada) Foundation in celebration of the long-term friendship and commitment between Canada, himself and HWL.
Since the early 1990s, Mr Li and Husky have supported many education, medical and community welfare projects in Canada. Beneficiaries of these projects included Lakefield College, Mount Royal College, University of Calgary, University of Manitoba, University of Ottawa, University of Newfoundland, University of Toronto, St Michael’s Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children and Carson City Elderly Centre.
Mr Li believes that an equitable society can only be achieved if each and every individual is ready and willing to do his or her part. In 1980, Mr Li set up a charitable foundation with a mission to enhance the impact of its philanthropy through two strategic objectives: to nurture a culture of giving and to foster creativity, constructive engagement, and sustainability through supporting capacity empowerment focused projects. To date, the Li Ka Shing Foundation and other private charitable Foundations established by Mr Li have supported numerous charitable activities with grants, sponsorships and commitments of over HK$11.3 billion (US$1.45 billion).
Shantou University (STU, www.stu.edu.cn), located in southeast China, is a comprehensive university founded by Mr Li in 1981 as a platform to introduce systematic and pedagogic reforms in China’s education system. STU is the only privately funded public university in China and LKSF’s contribution to date amounts to HK$5.3 billion (C$680 million). STU has 7,500 undergraduates, 1,500 graduate students, and nine colleges, including a strong medical school with five affiliated hospitals. STU medical school is now a leading research centre in influenza and its researchers, together with other global partners, have published many papers in top peer-reviewed journals, including Nature.
In recognition of his philanthropic efforts and his contributions to society, Mr Li has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, the University of Calgary in Canada, Peking University in China and the University of Hong Kong, among others.
Mr Li has also received the Grand Officer of the Order Vasco Nunez de Balboa from Panama, The Commander in the Leopold Order from Belgium, Knight (Commander of the Order) of the British Empire, and the Grand Bauhinia Medal of Hong Kong. In January 2005, Mr Li received the Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur from the French Government. The Times in the United Kingdom and Ernst & Young UK jointly named Mr Li as the Entrepreneur of the Millennium at the turn of the century.
About Mr Li Ka-shing