Chinese mogul gets top French honour on the quiet

25th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 25 (AFP) - Hong Kong tycoon and Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing has been awarded one of France's highest civic awards, the Legion of Honour, in a ceremony in the French capital, officials said Tuesday.

PARIS, Jan 25 (AFP) - Hong Kong tycoon and Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing has been awarded one of France's highest civic awards, the Legion of Honour, in a ceremony in the French capital, officials said Tuesday.

Li, 76, whose Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate dominates Hong Kong commerce, received the Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur from French President Jacques Chirac at a private ceremony at the Elysee Palace on Thursday, confirmed an Elysee spokesman.

Earlier, a company spokesman for Li said in Hong Kong the tycoon had been given the award in a quiet ceremony but that neither Li nor the French government had issued any statement afterward.

"There is nothing secret about it - he just wanted it to be a private ceremony," said the company spokesman.

An elusive character who rarely makes public appearances and travels with a phalanx of bodyguards, Li received the award in honour of his contribution to the promotion of trade and culture between France, China and Hong Kong.

One of Li's few appearances last year was to attend the ceremony at which fellow tycoon, Macau casino kingpin Stanley Ho, received the same award from the French ambassador to China, Philippe Guelluy.

The tycoon, who has launched a friendly takeover bid for French perfume retail group Marionnaud in a deal worth EUR 900 million (USD 1.17 billion), arrived in the former British colony as a refugee, starting out as a street vendor at age 12 and is now the 19th richest man in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

In 1996, according to court records, executed mainland crime boss "Big Spender" Cheung Tze-keung kidnapped Li's son Victor, setting him free only once a ransom of HKD 134 million (EUR 13.5 million, USD 17.17 million) was paid.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article