Hutchison Whampoa reports 53 pct net profit fall in 2012

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa said Tuesday net profit plunged 53 percent in 2012 because of one-off gains in the previous year, but income rose on growth in the property sector.

The port-to-telecoms conglomerate said net profit was HK$26.13 billion ($3.37 billion) in the year to December 31, from HK$56.02 billion in 2011.

The 2011 figure was lifted by a huge one-off gain from the sale of port assets.

The group's 2012 total revenue grew 4 percent to HK$398.39 billion, driven by a 16 percent increase in income at its property and hotels divisions.

Li, nicknamed "Superman" for his business prowess, said the group's businesses in over 50 countries achieved "solid performances" and showed "strong resilience" overall despite a weak global economy.

"In 2012, continued economic and financial uncertainty affected markets and geographies in which the group operates to varying degrees," he said in a statement, expressing confidence about prospects for this year.

The 84-year-old tycoon, who is worth $30 billion according to Forbes, has invested heavily abroad in recent years as his company seeks to broaden its earnings base outside of Hong Kong.

Li started out in business as a plastic flower-maker but now commands a vast empire through his flagship Cheung Kong Holdings, with global assets in property, telecoms, utilities, ports and retail.

He added a whopping $8 billion to his wealth in 2012 and retained the spot as Hong Kong's richest man, Forbes said in January, with his wealth partly boosted by the red-hot property market in the southern Chinese city.