Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hong Kong PCCW to Change Leadership

Hong Kong. Richard Li, younger son of Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong's richest man, has sold 22.7 per cent of his interest in PCCW, the SAR's main telecomms player for US$1.2 billion to Frances Leung, friend of Li Ka Shing and China. The sale will be concluded in December at which time Richard will step down as CEO, but retain a 3 per cent share in PCCW. The deal ends weeks of speculation over the young Li and PCCW.

PCCW is the main fixed line operator, and key broadband player ("now" service) in Hong Kong amongst its media investments. But for all his panache and style since starting out, Richard has managed to upset both China (for trying to sell PCCW to foreign investors) and Hong Kong's multitude of small investors (Richard's failure to turn PCCW into a regional telecomms powerhouse sending shares plummeting as a result). His departure will leave a bad taste even now even though he is offering a special dividend pay out for the sale of most of his shares in PCCW.

It is thought that Li senior stepped in to choose the course for the younger son.

Richard (39) started out working at the Li family's satellite TV station STAR. In 1993, he sold STARTV to media mogul, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for US$950 million. Li then used the proceeds from the sale of Star to set up Pacific Century Group, which later launched PCCW.

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