Brainfood: How he made his pile - Li Ka-Shing, Trader and entrepreneur

Who is he? Hong Kong's most successful businessman, net worth $13 billion. Ka-shing's empire spans 40 countries and includes real estate, container terminals and UK mobile operator 3.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

How did he make his millions? Ka-shing left school at 12 to work in a plastics factory. At 22 he set up Chueng Kong industries, manufacturing combs, before moving into real estate. He took control of Hutchison Whampoa in 1979, and Hong Kong Electric in '85. Ports - including Felixstowe - provide 30% of his income, while the sale of Orange in 1999 bagged him a $15 billion profit.

The secret of his success? Nicknamed Chui Yang (Superman), Ka-shing acts quickly and intuitively to snatch unpopular buys. In 1967, as anti-British riots deterred investors, he grabbed hectares of cut-price Hong Kong property; amid fears over the 1997 China handover, he bought up cheap container terminals. But eyebrows here were raised at his massive investment in 3G - could this prove the deal that dents the man of steel?

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