UPDATE 1-Cheung Kong, Li may underwrite $200 mln Pru rights shrs

* Hutchison sees limited impact from Europe crisis

* Says Husky eyes HK for listing of Southeast Asia operations

* Cheung Kong sells HK$12 bln of flats in first 4 mths

By Clare Jim and Donny Kowk

HONG KONG, May 27 (BestGrowthStock) – Billionaire and Cheung Kong
(Holdings) (0001.HK: ) chairman Li Ka-shing said his company and
foundation may underwrite a total of $200 million of Prudential’s
(PRU.L: )(2378.HK: )(PRTL.SI: ) rights issue.

“My foundation and the company (Cheung Kong) may set aside
$100 million each for the (Prudential) deal,” Li said, speaking
to reporters in Hong Kong on Thursday. “It was a deal proposed by
our finance manager and would be very small in dollar value,” he
said, referring to the potential investment in Prudential’s $21
billion rights issue.

Britain’s largest insurer has pulled together a long list of
banks and institutions to underwrite the deal, which will help
fund its planned $35.5 billion acquisition of U.S. insurance
giant AIG’s (AIG.N: ) AIA unit.

Separately, when asked if he would subscribe to the likely
initial public share offering of Agricultural Bank of China,
China’s fourth-largest bank, Li did not rule it out.

“Anything is possible,” he said.

Li, who built up his empire from a plastic-flower
manufacturing business set up in the 1950s, is now the richest
man in East Asia, with an estimated net worth of $21 billion. His
companies comprise about 15 percent of the Hong Kong stock
market’s total capitalisation, Forbes magazine said this year.

On the threat Europe’s debt crisis could pose to his global
business empire, Li said “I’m not pessimistic but am paying close
attention to the development.”

“It may have an impact on earnings, but it will not be
significant,” he added.

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (0013.HK: ), Li’s flagship company,
operates in 54 countries with investments in ports,
telecommunications, retail and infrastructure businesses.

INVEST OR NOT

The octogenarian, who appeared relaxed and in good spirits,
also said the recent downturn in Hong Kong’s stock market could
be a good opportunity to buy stocks, adding that he had recently
purchased shares in his own companies.

Li said Husky Energy Inc (HSE.TO: ), a Canadian oil exploration
and refining company of which he is the controlling shareholder,
was planning to spin off its Southeast Asia operations into a
separate company and would accelerate the development of its oil
sands business.

“It would be a benefit on all fronts if the Asian business is
listed in Hong Kong,” he said, adding that the plan was just in
the preliminary stages.

Li’s family and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd own about 70 percent of
Husky shares, according to public filings.

Also widely known by his nickname “Superman”, Li was positive
on the property markets of Hong Kong and China, saying that the
markets still had solid demand.

Cheung Kong sold HK$12 billion worth ($1.5 billion) of flats
in Hong Kong during the first four months of this year, Li said.

Shares of Cheung Kong rose 2.3 percent on Thursday and
Hutchison climbed 2.9 percent, both outperforming the 1.2 percent
rise by the blue chip Hang Seng Index (.HSI: ).

Stock Market Research

(Additional reporting by Alison Leung)

UPDATE 1-Cheung Kong, Li may underwrite $200 mln Pru rights shrs