HONG KONG: CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd , the ports-to-telecoms arm of billionaire businessman Li Ka-shing, posted a 7-percent rise in first-half net profit on Thursday, buoyed by strength in its telecoms business in Europe. That helped to offset reduced profit in its retail and infrastructure businesses as well as its unit Husky Energy Inc , while a weaker British pound also weighed. January-June profit reached HK$15.92 billion ($2.04 billion), largely in line with the HK$16.13 billion forecast from SmartEstimate. CK Hutchison posted a HK$14.92 billion profit for the same period a year earlier. Total revenue rose 5 percent to HK$190.05 billion. It declared an interim dividend of HK$0.78 per share, up 6 percent from the year-ago period. Shares of CK Hutchison closed up 0.9 percent on Thursday at their highest in nearly two years.
Li has increased the pace of overseas acquisitions in recent years, which has helped lift group profits, with growth in its European telecoms business providing a significant boost despite the impact on the value of its British business from the country’s decision to leave the European Union. The conglomerate made half of its revenue in Europe in 2016, of which more than one fifth was in Britain. Li had said in March that the outlook was uncertain amid political changes but the impact would be manageable and the group’s fundamentals remained solid. Last month, CK Hutchison-owned Husky Energy Inc booked a narrower second-quarter loss helped partly by higher oil prices and an increase in production, while sister company Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd said first-half profit increased 3 percent. The self-made billionaire Li said in June that he had not decided when to retire and would stay on as group senior adviser after he steps down as the chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings.