李嘉诚的英联邦情结

英国《金融时报》 刘励和 香港报道

Since Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, the Commonwealth has ceased having relevance to most people in the former British colony. But not for Li Ka-shing, the city’s richest man.

自1997年香港回归中国以来,英联邦对这个前英国殖民地的大多数人来说,已经不那么重要,但对香港首富李嘉诚(Li Ka-shing)除外。

Cheung Kong Infrastructure, his energy and water company, is an avid investor in Australia, Britain Canada and New Zealand as a result of their stable regulatory environments and steady returns on assets.

李嘉诚旗下的能源和水处理公司——长江基建集团有限公司(CKI)热衷于在澳大利亚、英国、加拿大和新西兰投资,原因是这些国家拥有可靠的监管环境和稳定的资产回报。

It was this strategy that led to Mr Li’s decision to buy the UK electricity distribution business of France’sEDF for £5.8bn ($9.2bn) last week.

正是由于这项战略,李嘉诚上周决定以58亿英镑(合92亿美元)收购法国电力公司(EDF)在英国的发电业务。

CKI and Hongkong Electric, the smaller of Hong Kong’s electricity duopoly in which CKI has a 39 per cent stake, will each control two-fifths of the new networks. Mr Li’s charity foundation will own the remainder.

长江基建和港灯集团(Hongkong Electric)将分别控制新电网五分之二的股份,李嘉诚的慈善基金将持有剩余股份。由长江基建持股39%的港灯集团是香港两家电力垄断集团中规模较小的一家。

For CKI, the acquisition is in line with its strategy for the past decade. Faced with a slowing, although still very profitable electricity market in Hong Kong, CKI has been banking on overseas acquisitions as it looks for new drivers of growth.

对于长江基建,此次收购符合过去十年的战略。面对利润仍然丰厚但增长已然放缓的香港电力市场,长江基建一直指望海外收购能成为新的增长动力。

In 1999, CKI embarked on its international foray by buying a small stake in Envestra, the Australian natural gas distributor for A$103.5m ($94.5m). Since then, the company has been buying regulated assets – water, gas and electricity – in other Commonwealth countries.

1999年,长江基建以1.035亿澳元(合9450万美元)收购了澳大利亚天然气公司Envestra的少量股份,启动了进军国际市场的脚步。自那以来,该公司一直在收购其它英联邦国家受到监管的资产——水、天然气和电力。

Australia remains its biggest foreign market, where profit from operations rose 27 per cent in 2010’s first half, compared with 3 per cent growth at home.

澳大利亚仍然是长江基建最大的外国市场——今年上半年,该公司澳大利亚业务的利润增长了27%,而在香港仅增长了3%。

CKI is one of the UK’s biggest utilities, owning Cambridge Water, part of Northern Gas Networks and now the EDF networks, which have 28 per cent of the market’s customers.

长江基建是英国最大的公用事业公司之一,拥有Cambridge Water、北方燃气网(Northern Gas Networks)的部分股权和目前的EDF电网。EDF拥有英国电力市场28%的客户。

The reason for CKI’s preference for assets in these countries is simple. They share a similar set of laws and regulations to those used in Hong Kong – which has retained the English common law system. The assets also usually operate under a regulated tariff regime, making returns steady.

长江基建优先收购这些国家的资产的理由很简单。它们的法律法规与香港相似——香港仍保留着英国普通法体系,而且这些资产通常在受到监管的关税制度下运营,收益稳定。

“Buying regulated businesses in Commonwealth countries is very much a CKI way of expansion,” says Ivan Lee, analyst at Nomura.

野村(Nomura)分析师Ivan Lee表示:“收购英联邦国家受监管的资产完全是长江基建的扩张方式。”

Edmond Ip, deputy chairman of CKI, said earlier that the company liked the EDF networks because of their size and the regulatory environment in the UK.

长江基建副主席叶德铨(Edmond Ip)早些时候曾表示,长江基建之所以青睐EDF电网,是因为它的规模和英国的监管环境。

“We operate in Australia and the UK. We are very happy with the regulations in these countries,” said Mr Ip.

叶德铨表示:“我们在澳大利亚和英国经营业务。我们对这些国家的监管制度非常满意。”

“If we go into another country, like the US, it will be totally different,” he added.

他补充道:“如果我们进入另一个国家,比如美国,情况就会完全不同。”

So far, the strategy has been paying off. While HKE is still the biggest contributor to CKI’s profits, overseas investments now account for half of the company’s bottom line.

迄今为止,这一战略为长江基建带来了回报。尽管港灯集团仍然是长江基建的最大利润来源,但海外投资目前已占到该公司利润的一半。

The new purchases appear to be good for investors. Mr Li says the EDF acquisition has a return on equity of about 11 per cent. This deal, Morgan Stanley says, will lead to a 17 per cent uplift in dividend per share next year.

新的收购似乎有利于投资者。李嘉诚表示,收购EDF可以带来大约11%的股权回报率。摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)称,这桩交易将使明年的每股股息提高17%。

“Shareholders love to see us buying these assets,” said Mr Ip last week. “With the good cash flow coming in, we are able to pay good dividends. If you look at our records, we have been able to increase our dividend payment every single year.

叶德铨上周表示:“股东们乐于看到我们收购这些资产。有良好的现金流流入,我们就能够支付丰厚的股息。你可以看看我们的记录,一直以来,我们每年都能提高股息支付。”

“The shareholders love it. We love it. We will continue to do more.”

“股东喜欢,我们也喜欢,我们将继续进行更多的收购。”

The company says it is looking at other assets that have “good and stable return” in the UK, Australia and Canada.

长江基建表示,该公司正考虑收购英国、澳大利亚和加拿大拥有“良好而稳定回报”的其它资产。

Mr Li has stressed that he would invest anywhere with a safe environment and sound legal system.

李嘉诚强调,任何地方只要环境安全、法律体系健全,他都会投资。

As with most companies in Hong Kong, CKI is not dismissing opportunities north of the border.

与香港的大多数公司一样,长江基建没有否认中国内地的投资机遇。

“For CKI, the mainland electricity market is much riskier in terms of regulations. There aren’t that many opportunities either because power grids are state-owned,” says Nomura’s Mr Lee.

野村的Ivan Lee表示:“对于长江基建,内地电力市场在监管方面的风险要大得多。由于内地电网属于国有,那里也没有那么多的投资机会。”

Currently, mainland China accounts for less than 10 per cent of profits from operations and most of CKI’s assets in China are toll-roads, which do not provide regulated returns.

目前,中国内地在长江基建营业利润中所占比例不到10%。该公司在内地的资产大多是不会带来受监管的回报率的收费公路。

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