Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing combines power, infrastructure businesses

HONG KONG – Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is combining his infrastructure and power utility companies in an $11.6 billion reshuffle of his business empire to pursue more investments abroad.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure said it’s offering to swap new stock for all shares of Power Assets Holdings it doesn’t already own. The deal is worth nearly $12 billion based on Tuesday’s closing share price.

The combined company’s investments include rail and gas businesses in Britain, parking lots in Canada and waste disposal in New Zealand.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure said in a statement the deal would allow it to beef up its balance sheet so it can better compete for projects in the capital-intensive infrastructure industry.

Li has long been Asia’s richest person, although he recently fell to second place with a fortune of $25 billion, according to Forbes.

The deal follows a major reorganization earlier this year of Li’s flagship company and its subsidiary, which were merged and renamed CK Hutchison Holdings.

The reshuffles also foreshadow a long-awaited corporate succession. The 87-year-old Li remains chairman of CK Hutchison but he’s expected to eventually hand the reins to his eldest son, Victor.