China's Li Ka Shing Seeks To Acquire Britain's New High Speed Rail Line Weeks After Acquiring Britain's Largest Electricity Distribution Network

August 19, 2010 1:41 PM EDT

Li Ka-Shing, the biggest tycoon in Hong Kong, is looking to acquire Britain’s rail line to expand his presence in the country, local media reported on Thursday.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure – part of the empire of Li, will pay up to $2 billion (HK$24.27 billion) for High Speed 1 (HS1),  the first high-speed linein the country, the Standard said.

REUTERS
Hutchison Whampoa Limited and Cheung Kong Holdings Chairman Li Ka-shing attends the company’s 2007 annual results news conference in Hong Kong March 27, 2008.

The move comes following Li’s $9 billion deal of buying Britain’s biggest electricity distribution network from French power giant EDF on July 30.

CKI, which is 85 percent-owned by Hutchison Whampoa Ltd chaired by Li, has made six British investment since its first expansion in the market in 2004.

Other potential bidders for the rail line include a consortium featuring Eurotunnel, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, France’s SNCF and M&G Infracapital, the report said.

According to London & Continental Railways, HS1’s parent company, HS1 is Britain’s first new mainline railway since the Great Central steamed into London Marylebone in 1899.

With a maximum operating speed of 300kph for Eurostar trains, HS1 has sliced the journey time from central London to Paris to only 2 hours 15 minutes and the journey to Brussels now takes less than 2 hours, the company said.

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