HK’s Li beats profit predictions after company revamp


HONG KONG: Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s flagship CK Hutchison Holdings on Thursday posted a net profit of HK$31.2 billion ($4 billion) for 2015, beating analysts’ estimates after a sweeping reshuffle of Li’s business empire.

But the firm, which controls assets in telecoms, utilities, ports and other industries in over 50 countries, said “significant headwinds” had affected its performance, with low oil prices particularly hitting its energy business.

The company reshuffle took place in June but the full-year earnings report gave results adjusted to show what earnings would have been if the revamp had occurred at the beginning of 2015, to aid comparison.

The adjusted results showed net profit for 2015 had slipped eight percent to HK$31.2 billion compared to the previous year, but beat the HK$30.9 billion average analysts’ estimate from Bloomberg.

Net profit taken only from June without any adjustment stood at HK$118.6 billion.

“Significant headwinds in both currencies and commodities affected certain core businesses in the group in 2015,” Li said in a statement.

However, strong performances in the telecoms sector and savings made by the firm’s reorganization had helped offset challenges, Li said.

Hutchison also announced a full-year dividend of HK$2.55 a share.

Under the reshuffle of Li’s empire, Cheung Kong changed its name to CK Hutchison
Holdings, while all property-related business came under the control of CK Property, a newly listed company.

Hutchison Whampoa, trading on the city’s bourse since 1978, was delisted.

Li said the overhaul was to secure future stability and was also seen as paving the way for him to hand over the reins to his eldest son Victor after he retires.

Nicknamed “Superman” for his sharp business acumen, Li has been selling assets in China and Hong Kong and making multibillion-dollar purchases in Europe, fuelling speculation that he is losing confidence in the Greater China region.

Li has agreed to buy British telecom giant O2 from Spain’s Telefonica for $15.2 billion, but the deal still has to get past European regulators.



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