Hong Kong ‘superman’ Li to buy UK’s Eversholt Rail Group for $3.8 billion
Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure announced on Tuesday it had finalised the acquisition of Britain’s Eversholt Rail Group for $ 3.8 billion, as the tycoon’s business empire continued to expand offshore.
The purchase of one of Britain’s three main railway rolling stock companies follows an agreement last month which allowed Li to purchase British telecom giant O2 for $15.2 billion, a move that will expand his holdings in the international telecoms industry. “CKI’s investment in UK’s rolling stock industry reflects the group’s strategy of embracing new growth opportunities through diversification and globalisation,” the group said in a statement. It said the purchase of the firm, which owns 28 percent of the nation’s passenger trains, marked a “new chapter in the development of CKI’s transport infrastructure business”.
The firm, which announced the Eversholt acquisition in January, bought Canadian off-airport car park business Park’N Fly in July last year and acquired Australian gas distribution company Envestra in October. Eversholt owns some 3,500 passenger trains along with more than 80 freight locomotives and nearly a thousand freight wagons. It was set up in 1994 as part of the privatisation of British Rail. The 86-year-old, worth $ 35 billion according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, had been Asia’s richest man since 2012, but was surpassed by Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, in December last year. Li, locally nicknamed “Superman”, announced a sweeping rearrangement of his business empire in January, largely expected to pave the way for his retirement. There has been speculation of a handover to his son Victor.