Victor Li

Investor Victor Li is both a Canadian and Chinese citizen(courtesy Radio Canada).

Hong Kong investor Victor Li holds both Canadian and Chinese citizenship. He is the son of Li Ka-shing, China’s richest person and the fifth richest person in the world according to Forbes (first quarter of 2011).

Victor Li attended Stanford University in California, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil and structural engineering. The elder Li purchased Husky Oil and Gas in Alberta in 1987 and began development of Pacific Place in Vancouver in 1988. Victor Li began his career in Canada, developing the Expo 86 site in Vancouver and sitting as a director on the board of Husky Energy Inc, which is a Canadian subsidiary of Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd (CKI), the family’s core business. In 1990, Li returned to Hong Kong to work for his father at CKI headquarters.

Husky Energy’s performance through the early 1990s was poor but improved in the latter part of the decade. In 2001, Li became co-chairman of Husky Energy, which became successful enough to support Husky’s main investor, Hutchison Whampoa, another Li business. Li became executive director at Hutchison Whampoa in 1995 and deputy chairman in 1991. As Husky’s bottom line increased, so did the returns to Hutchison Whampoa.

Li eventually become the chair of one of CKI's most profitable divisions, CK Life Sciences International, the company’s pharmaceutical division, and then became chairman of CKI in 1996. Early in the 2000s, the company owned quarries and cement companies, transportation infrastructure, electric and water utilities, and real estate in 40 countries, including wireless network infrastructure in the third-generation wireless networks in Europe.

Air Canada Bailout Offer

Victor Li may be best known among Canadians for his offer to bail out Air Canada. Because of his Canadian citizenship, in 2003 Li took an interest in the bankrupt national airline. Air Canada chose an offer from Li's privately held Trinity Time Investments Ltd. over one from New York-based hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management LP. For $650 million, Li would get a controlling 31% equity stake. Li won the bid and a Canadian judge approved it in January 2004, causing many to hail Li as having saved the airline. However, the deal became shaky over a union dispute. When the union, airline and Trinity had not reached an agreement by the deadline, Li and his company withdrew their offer.

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