by CIO Staff

Telefonica, Foundations to Buy Richard Li’s PCCW Stake

Nov 13, 20062 mins

Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica and private foundations run by Asia’s richest man will buy the stake in PCCW owned by Chairman Richard Li, according to filings and statements made Monday.

Li Ka-shing Foundation (LKSF), which is owned by Hong Kong real estate and telecommunications magnate Li Ka-shing, will buy 10 percent of his son Richard’s approximately 23 percent stake, while its Canadian counterpart, Li Ka-shing (Canada) Foundation, will buy 2 percent, according to an LKSF statement.

The value of the 12 percent stake purchased by the two foundations is HK$4.85 billion (US$623 million). The elder Li will make a new donation of HK$4.04 billion to the foundations to finance the purchase, LKSF said.

As stated in filings to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, Telefonica will purchase 8 percent of Richard Li’s stake, in a move designed to bring it closer to China Network Communications (China Netcom), which owns just under 20 percent of PCCW. China Netcom was instrumental in blocking bids for the Li stake from groups in Texas and Australia this summer.

Telefonica already owns 5 percent of China Netcom’s Hong Kong-listed entity, China Netcom Group (Hong Kong).

The deal was brokered by Francis P.T. Leung, a Hong Kong financier with long ties to Li Ka-shing. Leung will retain 2.65 percent of Richard Li’s stake upon its completion.

The agreement, subject to closing terms, is expected to close in January 2007.

The sale marks Richard Li’s exit from his once high-flying telecommunications company. In late 2000, PCCW, then basically an Internet startup, outbid Singapore Telecommunications to acquire Cable & Wireless HKT, in an attempt to make the company a regional telecom powerhouse. Despite huge ambition, the company’s performance never matched its hubris, and in 2003, Li stepped down as the company’s chief executive officer.

-Steven Schwankert, IDG News Service (Beijing Bureau)

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