Li Ka Shing: A Case Study in Asian Outbound Investment

Asian investment in real estate assets across the world but, as Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing’s recent activities show, this ongoing trend has relevance for a much wider range of sectors and has the potential to change the ownership landscape in the coming years.

Li Ka Shing Has Invested $50 billion in UK Since 1995

Data from Dealogic quoted in the Financial Times shows that Li Ka Shing has since 1995 made a total of $50 billion in investments in the UK alone across power, water, rail, ports, phones and cosmetics sectors.This portfolio mirrors the empire that Shing built up in Hong Kong but is now in the process of selling.

Lots of motivations have been cast about as to why Shing has been so active in the UK: diversifying holdings internationally and retreating from slowing markets in Hong Kong and China are two to name a few. But the point is that Shing is part of a large and increasingly wealthy generation of investors in Asia who are making their presence felt.

Research by JLL, a property company, estimates a total of 48,460 high net worth individuals in Asia alone with a total wealth of $7.1 trillion, ranking third behind the U.S. and European Union. While this refers to personal investors, it speaks to a significant build-up of capital in the Asia Pacific region.

These capital stocks have been put to use in a wide range of sectors in the past five years. Data on China alone shows a total of $870.4 billion invested during the past five years, most of which has found its way into energy assets, but also has been allocated to transport, minerals, real estate, agriculture and tech investment opportunities.

This multi-sector trend looks likely to continue in the future. In January 2015, a spate of news stories, including new Korean investment in Canada and Thai investment in Mexico, showed the year got off to a good start. Chinese investment alone is expected to reach $1.25 trillion over the next ten years.