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MAY 15, 2000
COVER STORY -- E.BIZ -- THE E.BIZ 25

By: Bruce Einhorn


Richard Li


  RELATED ITEMS

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Pacific Century CyberWorks
----------
Position: Chairman

Contribution: Li has turned PCCW into one of Asia's biggest Net companies, investing in dozens of startups and kick-starting e-commerce in Hong Kong.

Challenge: His bid for local telecom power Cable & Wireless HKT is in danger now that Hong Kong's Net fever has cooled and his stock is down about half. Rivals Singapore Telecom and News Corp. may team up to steal HKT away.

When Hong Kong opened a new suburban airport, Net tycoon Richard Li was miffed. He could no longer pilot his Cessna past tenements onto the city's scary old landing space. ''Taking off from the airport is, like, who cares?'' he says.

Li doesn't shy away from a challenge. In little more than a year, the 33-year-old son of local real estate billionaire Li Ka-shing has created a regional cyberpower. His company, Pacific Century CyberWorks, has invested in 43 Net startups. It also plans to provide high-speed Web access and interactive TV programming. Right now, Li is pressing a $38 billion bid to buy Hong Kong's premier telecom operator, Cable & Wireless HKT.

While the deal is in jeopardy because of market volatility, Li has spurred a slew of copycat Net initiatives. Li has been ''responsible for a total turnaround of Hong Kong's view of e-commerce,'' says Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce's Ian Perkin. Those daredevil instincts in the cockpit are paying off.




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