Billionaire Li’s latest $60M bet on Facebook

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Dec 02 2007
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To Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing 60 million dollars are just loose change. Considering his fortune was estimated to be worth 23 billions and the ninth richest person in the world by Forbes, 60 million dollars toy would not looks excessive. The tycoon could probably talk days and nights when come to topic of property investing but unlike Warren Buffett who walked away from technology stocks during dot com boom, billionaire Li’s latest bet could turns out to become the future jackpot.

Following Microsoft Corp.’s (Nasdaq: MSFT, stock) step in recognizing the potential in social networking websites in Facebook, it appears Li has somehow saw the potential in pouring 60 million dollars with a right to acquire another 60 million dollars stake in the US-based company which has about 5 million members around the world and is registering 250,000 new users daily. Microsoft had bought 240 million dollars stake in a deal that instantly valuing Facebook at 15 billion dollars back in Oct 2007.
Li Ka-shing FacebookHowever Li’s investment was shielded from his Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (HKG:
0013) and Cheung Kong’s (HKG: 0001) empire. Instead he made his entry via his Chinese mobile internet company Tom.com. If Facebook could hit it big the same way Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG, stock) did it when listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, Tom.com could bring cheers to the richest man in Asia – Li Ka-shing. The ultimate reason could lies in it’s partnership in China that could prove valuable for access to China.

Facebook, according to sources, is still planning on raising more investment dollars, although some once-hot prospects, such as Providence Equity Partners, have dropped out due to the onerous terms Facebook has demanded from investors. Providence was put off by the lack of downside protection and also the fact that a major investment in Facebook would not get them a seat on the board of the start-up. Neither Microsoft nor Li will get a Facebook board seat though.

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