One-third of Li Ka-shing’s wealth comes from $11b Zoom stake

Li Ka-shing, former chairman and senior adviser of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. and CK Asset Holdings Ltd., waves from his car as he leaves the companies' annual general meetings in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, May 10, 2018. The 89-year-old tycoon, who announced his retirement plans in March, resigned as chairman of the two companies today. His eldest son, 53-year-old Victor Li, will take over. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

Li Ka-shing’s Hong Kong business empire may be struggling, but he’s managed to remain the city’s richest man. That’s largely thanks to an early bet on Zoom Video Communications Inc. and Solina Chau, his long-time confidante who co-founded the billionaire’s venture-investment arm.

The tycoon, who’s best known for building some of the most iconic skyscrapers to dot Hong Kong’s skyline, first invested in the video-conferencing app in 2013. The 92-year-old now holds 8.5% of the San Jose, California-based company, a stake that’s worth $11 billion, or one-third of his wealth.

Zoom has been on a tear this year as the coronavirus shuttered offices and schools, forcing people to hold virtual meetings and classes. On Monday, the U.S.-listed company reported a 355% jump in sales for the three months ended July 31, the second-best result among Nasdaq 100 Index members last quarter. That boosted the stock a further 41% Tuesday, with Li’s stake gaining $3.2 billion in just one day. He’s now worth $32.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

While Zoom has surged this year, Li’s conglomerates, CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. and CK Asset Holdings Ltd., have struggled amid the Covid-19 crisis and the anti-government protests that have hit Hong Kong. The shares have lost more than a quarter of their value in 2020, and the tycoon who for decades profited by expanding in times of crisis is now scaling back, seeking cost cuts.

After reporting first-half profit dropped 29%, CK Hutchison warned last month that net income may fall at its core ports and retail businesses in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, CK Asset said earnings sank 58% in the six months through June.

The Zoom investment is partly thanks to Chau, who in 2002 co-founded Horizons Ventures Ltd., which manages Li’s venture investments. The vehicle was an early backer of Facebook Inc., Spotify Technology SA and Siri, and has also invested in plant-based meat producer Impossible Foods Inc. It participated in Zoom funding rounds in 2013 and 2015, and when the company went public last year, Li’s stake was worth about $850 million. Horizons Ventures declined to comment.

Li’s returns from investments through Horizons Ventures are allocated to his charity, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, which Li has referred to as his third son. He put one-third of his wealth in it in 2006, or more than $9 billion, according to a 2015 statement from his business group. Chau, 59, is the foundation’s executive director.

Bloomberg

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.