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Business

Buyer of Peninsula Hotels stake tries pre-empting takeover talk

Possible ties between investor and daughter of Xi's close aide reported

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The Peninsula Hong Kong.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels' new second-largest shareholder is not attempting a hostile takeover, he assured the operator of Peninsula Hotels in a letter whose existence was revealed Friday.

The missive came from Chua Hwa Por of Singapore, who raised his stake this year and now holds a roughly 12% interest.

Hong Kong news media have reported that a woman living with Chua in a luxury residence here has the same name as the daughter of Politburo member Li Zhanshu, a close aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Li heads the Communist Party's General Office, a post equivalent to Japan's chief cabinet secretary. He is broadly expected to get a promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee at the party congress this fall.

With the government strictly controlling overseas acquisitions by Chinese companies, the letter is seen as a way to dodge potential attacks on Li by his political enemies.

The Kadoorie family still owns more than 50% of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, whose long-term investment horizon has not changed, CEO Clement King Man Kwok stressed in a news conference Friday.

The company also reported a January-June net profit of 519 million Hong Kong dollars ($66.3 million), up 160% on the year. With Beijing and Chicago hotel renovations completed, higher occupancy rates lifted earnings. Underlying profit -- calculated by subtracting the after-tax effects of property revaluation and other items -- rose 19% to HK$181 million.

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