Hong Kong’s richest man buys British pub chain for $5.6B

A real estate company controlled by Hong Kong’s richest man is paying a big premium to buy a British pub chain and brewer.

Li Ka-shing‘s CK Asset Holdings said Monday that it had reached an agreement to buy Greene King in a deal worth £4.6 billion ($5.6 billion), including its debt.

The Hong Kong company is offering 850 pence ($1.03) per share, a 51% premium to Greene King’s closing stock price on Friday.

“CKA’s strategy is to look for businesses with stable and resilient characteristics and strong cash flow generating capabilities,” said George Colin Magnus, chairman designate of the CKA unit in charge of the acquisition. “The UK pub and brewing sector shares these characteristics.”

Greene King was founded in 1799. It operates more than 2,700 pubs, restaurants and hotels across England, Wales and Scotland and employs about 38,000 people. Annual revenues total about £2.2 billion ($2.7 billion).

CK Asset Holdings is one of Hong Kong’s top property developers. Li has served as senior adviser since 2018, when he retired from the business he built. His family and trust still owns just over 32% of the company.

Li recently added his voice to calls for calm in Hong Kong as pro-democracy protests reach their 11th consecutive week. “In the name of love, please turn away from anger,” read an advertisement Li placed in several local newspapers on Friday.

CK Asset Holdings also joined more than a dozen companies in signing a statement strongly condemning violent protests in the city.