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August 12, 2016

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Li beats forecast as net profits rise

BILLIONAIRE Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing yesterday saw profits rise in the first half of 2016, beating analysts' expectations, with a major boost coming from his European and Asian telecoms operations.

But Li, 88, warned of "considerable challenges" after Britain voted to leave the European Union. Li had advocated the UK to stay in Europe.

His flagship company CK Hutchison Holdings counts Britain as its biggest earnings contributor, with telecoms outfit 3 Group Europe now a major force — it had 26.8 million active customers by the end of June, the firm said in a statement yesterday.

Despite post-Brexit uncertainty, Li said his operations in the UK and Europe were resilient, and expected to yield “stable and reasonable” returns.

“The key fundamentals of the group as a whole remain solid,” said Li in a statement.

CK Hutchison Holdings controls assets in telecoms, utilities, ports and other industries in over 50 countries.

Net profit for the company, excluding earnings from discontinued operations, rose 1.94 percent to HK$15.23 billion (US$2 billion) in the first six months of 2016, compared with HK$14.94 billion a year earlier.

That beat the HK$14.8 billion median view in a survey of six analysts by Bloomberg News.

Revenue stood at HK$180.51 billion down 8 percent from HK$197.02 billion, as gains were weighed by a number of factors including low oil and gas prices and general market volatility.

Li's Hong Kong-based retail businesses also came under pressure from a drop in tourism from visitors from the Chinese mainland, Li said.

Separately, Cheung Kong Property’s net profit rose 25 percent to HK$8.61 billion due to commercial property rents, while revenues surged 45 percent.

Yesterday’s positive results were tempered by a decision earlier in the day by Australia to block Li's joint bid to buy the electricity network in its most populous state.


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