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Asiaweek
 > summer special 2000
For the year 2000

GOVERNANCE
The Best Government Reformer
How Asia Is Governed
The Best Local Administrator
The Best Activist


BUSINESS
The Best Dealmaker
The Best IPO
The Best Stock
The Best Advocate of Shareholder Rights
The Best Fund Manager
The Best Cost Cutter

LIFESTYLE
The Best Airport
The Best Hotel Service
The Best Hotel Gym
The Best Store
The Best Food

ENVIRONMENT
In Tune with Nature
The Best Forest Preserve
The Best City Park
The Best Transport
The Best Green Test
The Best Marine Preserve
The Best Marine Park

THE WIRED WORLD
The Hottest Video Game
The Hottest Gadget
The Hottest Portal
The Best Asian Websites

POP CULTURE
The Hottest Fad
The Hottest Toy
The Hottest TV Show
The Hottest Album
The Best Movie
The Best Short Film

 

Dealmaker | IPO |  Stock | Advocate of Shareholder Rights | Fund Manager | Cost Cutter
Start the Bidding

Ira Chaplain for Asiaweek.
Richard Li has escaped from dad's shadow to be a formidable entrepeneur.

Li Ka-shing's only competition to be the year's Best Dealmaker was his son
By TIM HEALY

ALSO
The year Richard built a company
The Best Initial Public Offerings

In this Golden Age of the Deal, the only hard part about picking Asia's Best Dealmaker was deciding which guy named Li wins. It could be Li Ka-shing, the archetypal Asian tycoon (and Asiaweek's Most Powerful Person three months ago) who late last year parlayed an investment of a few hundred million dollars in 1992 into a $14.6 billion cash-and-stock windfall from the sale of cellular company Orange. Li's Internet start-up Tom.com went public in March. Its initial offering was oversubscribed 669 times and investors valued the IPO at $2.8 billion.

These deals and others help make the elder Li Asia's second-best dealmaker; No. 1 goes to son Richard Li Tzar-kai. The younger of Ka-shing's two sons has rivaled and surpassed his dad as a dealmaker in the past 12 months on the strength of a company, Pacific Century CyberWorks, that didn't exist 13 months ago. Since it was founded in August 1999, PCCW has entered into more than 50 deals ranging from its $38 billion purchase of Cable & Wireless HKT to a minor share in Pets.com, an Internet portal offering services and advice to pet owners.

The deals have transformed Richard from the scion of a legendary Asian businessman to a true Hong Kong celebrity. Like any billionaire young bachelor with two yachts, a private plane, apartments around the world, and a dynamic and growing Internet investment company (can you think of any others?), Li has become engulfed by the press. His every move is charted by both serious business journals and silly tabloids. To a few, he remains Li Ka-shing's boy wonder, but to many he is nothing less than Asia's Bill Gates — and certifiably his own man.

Richard and PCCW actually leave footprints throughout the pages that follow focusing on The Best in Asian business. The company's back-door listing a year ago disqualifies it from our list of IPOs (see opposite page). But PCCW is the 10th-best performing stock in Asia over the past 12 months. Our pick for Best Fund Manager, Peter Chau, deputy managing director for TAL CEF Global Asset Management in Hong Kong, acknowledges that he owes a good piece of his success to PCCW, which at the end of 1999 was his fund's largest single holding. And while neither Li nor his company are mentioned in Best Advocate for Shareholders' Rights or Best Cost Cutter, they represent — like the winners of those categories — a new way of doing business that is challenging past mistakes.

Not to say that the importance of personal relationships and friendly governments are disappearing in the region. Far from it. But new Asian dealmakers like Richard Li who combine tried and tested business techniques with modern ones are certainly in ascendancy. The last 12 months have seen a surge of deals followed by a stock crash followed by a tentative market recovery. What comes next is anyone's guess. But keep your eyes out for a Li at the center of the action. Richard, that is.

The Year Richard Built a Company
Since Richard Li Tzar-kai formally launched Pacific Century CyberWorks a year ago, the company has done more than 50 separate deals. And that doesn't include the biggest one: the takeover of Cable & Wireless HKT. Here are just a handful of the deals PCCW has been involved in over the last 12 months:

• Several alliances and joint ventures to invest in and incubate technology companies. Together with CMGI, it launched CMGI Asia to invest in Internet companies. PCCW owns one-fifth of the Asia Java Fund, which is managed by VC-investor AsiaTech Ventures. It has been rumored to be looking to buy the troubled Japanese technology investor Hikari Tsushin. PCCW denies the rumor.

• Investments in several companies have expanded PCCW's reach. PCCW owns 5% of Thrunet, South Korea's leading broadband Internet access service. In May it formed an alliance with an ISP in Taiwan called GigaMedia. Stakes in Indian ISPs like DAP make PCCW a leading international Internet player on the subcontinent. And the company owns small pieces of leading Chinese portals Sohu.com and Sina.com.

• Content providers have been a favorite. PCCW holds less than 5% of ETNet.com, a Hong Kong financial data portal started by the Hong Kong Economic Times newspaper. It owns one-quarter of Point Property, which provides property data on a few key Asian cities. And it holds a 4% stake in Tom.com, the China-focused portal started by Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa.

• PCCW has taken stakes both big and small in a wide variety of other technology equipment companies, business-to-business Internet portals and sites directed at consumers. For instance, it bought 80% of a data center and Internet facilities management company called iLink.net. It owns 12.5% of Digiscent, which aims to deliver olfactory messages electronically. And it has 20% of StarEastNet.com, a celebrity website aimed at connecting stars with their fans.


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The Best Initial Public Offerings
A Few of Them Stayed Strong
% Change from IPO price AT ITS
PEAK . . .

Highest close
. . . AND
TODAY
Aug. 3 close
Chartered Semiconductor (Singapore) 3,279 1,976
Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) 2,962 1,365
Softbank Technology (Japan) 1,835 39
Online Trading Systems (Australia)
900 -40
Tom.com (Hong Kong)
762 192
Satyam Infoway (India) 528 -28
HCL Technologies (India) 421 61
SmarTech Digital (Hong Kong) 395 373
Hongkong.com
384 -57
Thrunet (South Korea) 367 -47
Technology One (Australia)
330 305
VIA Technologies (Taiwan) 319 233
Liquid Audio Japan 307 -65
Chinadotcom 290 -23
Open Telecommunications (Australia) 280 70
Procomp Informatics (Taiwan) 277 103
Sina.com (China) 244 18
Powerlan (Australia) 215 44
ST Assembly Test Services (Singapore) 207 0
The initial public offerings were completed in the past 12 months and were not necessarily listed on the stock exchange of the country where the company is based. Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor and India's Satyam Infoway, for example, were floated on Nasdaq in the U.S. Sources: Bridge, I/B/E/S and Primark

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