Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s firm to sell stake in fintech upstart

Thursday, 04 Aug 2022 8:41 PM MYT

HONG KONG, Aug 4 — Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s firm is selling its stake in the parent company of fintech upstart AMTD Digital, according to a statement released today, after the company enjoyed a massive rally this week.

Hong Kong-based AMTD Digital was worth more than US$203 billion (RM904 billion) when New York markets closed yesterday, making it the world’s fifth-biggest financial company on paper, Bloomberg reported.

AMTD Digital was listed just three weeks ago, and reported US$25 million in revenue for the financial year that ended in April 2021.

Li’s CK Group said in a statement that it holds less than four per cent of AMTD Digital’s parent company, AMTD Group, and has entered negotiations to sell those shares.

CK added that it has no representatives on AMTD Group’s board and has no business dealings with or shareholdings in AMTD Digital directly.

The sale would put distance between CK and AMTD Digital’s founder Calvin Choi, a former investment banker who is appealing a ban by Hong Kong regulators for failing to disclose conflicts of interest.

Li’s CK said its current four per cent stake was left over from a sale nearly a decade ago, where CK sold a majority of its AMTD Group shares.

AMTD Group was set up in 2003 and lists CK Asset Holdings as a co-founder, according to its website.

Analysts have partly attributed AMTD Digital’s current rally to the small portion of shares that were made available for trading.

“The low free float in the company’s shares means it will be easier for big shareholders to push up the stock price,” research analyst Thomas Nip at Valuable Capital in Hong Kong told Bloomberg, adding that the stock is highly overvalued.

Oktay Kavrak, director at Leverage Shares, told Bloomberg that AMTD Digital was heading for a “nosedive” given the speed of its ascent.

AMTD Digital’s swift rally had prompted questions of whether it was the next “meme stock” — shares that skyrocket due to retail trading mania — similar to video game chain GameStop.

In January 2021, small-time stock traders banded together and rocked Wall Street by driving up the prices of shares like GameStop and cinema chain AMC, reaping massive profits.

But there is no evidence yet of a clear link between AMTD Digital’s stock movements this week and trades driven by social media interest, with some users of Reddit forum WallStreetBets dismissing the connection.

On Tuesday, AMTD Digital said it knew of “no material circumstances, events nor other matters relating to our company’s business and operating activities since the IPO date”. — AFP