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Asia's richest man buys 60 aircraft in US$2.5b deals

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A property flagship led by Asia's richest tycoon Li Ka-shing said on Wednesday it plans to buy up to 60 passenger jets in a series of transactions that amount to more than US$2.5 billion.

[HONG KONG] A property flagship led by Asia's richest tycoon Li Ka-shing said on Wednesday it plans to buy up to 60 passenger jets in a series of transactions that amount to more than US$2.5 billion.

The Hong Kong businessman made his first major foray into the aviation industry in August by announcing plans to buy into Irish aircraft leasing group AWAS, and the new purchases expand his investments into a field that can yield stable and long-term cash flow, analysts have said.

A filing written by Cheung Kong Holdings for the southern Chinese city's Stock Exchange late Tuesday said that the plan was to buy the Boeing and Airbus aircraft from GE Capital Aviation Services Ltd, BOC Aviation Pte, Jackson Square Aviation, LLC, and MC Aviation Partners Inc.

The company confirmed Wednesday that the total number of jets was around 60.

The deals are worth a total of more than US$2.52 billion, Dow Jones Newswire reported.

Mr Li is reaching out to the sector as premium airlines cut costs amid fierce competition from a growing number of budget carriers in Asia.

Last year, China lifted a six-year ban on creating private airlines, helping fuel demand for aircraft.

The deals also include acquisitions worth US$800 million made through a joint venture formed with a subsidiary of Japanese Mitsubishi Corp, Dow Jones reported.

Mr Li commands a vast empire through Cheung Kong Holdings and conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, with global assets in property, telecoms, utilities, ports and retail.

In August, the property flagship announced plans to purchase Dublin-based AWAS in a US$5 billion deal that involve 100 aircraft.

AFP