Alone among Hong Kong’s property tycoons, Mr Li knew when to branch out overseas and into new industries. Equally rare, he always found and hired the best professional managers, many of them foreigners. Most importantly, his investment record has, so far, outperformed that of all other Asian tycoons. Everyone who has worked with him raves about his nose for opportunity.
Like Mr Buffett, he appears to look for value, but comparisons with the Sage of Omaha are overdone. Mr Buffett crunches piles of numbers in the search for undervalued companies, then holds their shares indefinitely. Mr Li, by contrast, is, on the face of it, the archetypal Asian asset-trader. He tries to time the market. He is patient but swoops with phenomenal speed when opportunities present themselves. Global Crossing is a case in point. It has few synergies with Mr Li’s other telecoms assets. Mr Li first made an offer in January, then withdrew it, and then came back with a new offer, two-thirds lower.