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Family of Asia's richest man sells US$928 mil. property

BEIJING--A company controlled by the family of Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing has sold a landmark Beijing property for more than US$900 million, it said, adding to speculation he is cashing out of Chinese property.

Pacific Century Premium Developments — a firm chaired by Richard Li, the tycoon's younger son — signed an agreement Tuesday to sell Pacific Century Place for US$928 million, the firm said in a statement filed with the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The deal is nearly 30 percent lower than the asking price reported last year for the well-located Beijing property, made up of two office towers, two serviced apartment blocks and a shopping mall, China's Dongfang Daily newspaper said Thursday.

The deal is the fourth Chinese property disposal by Li's family since August, it said, adding that the sales have fetched a total of nearly 18 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion).

“Li's investment strategy since 1970s shows that he will always sell his assets two to three years ahead of crises to reallocate (the resources),” the newspaper quoted an unnamed industry insider as saying.

Li has already sold properties in major Chinese cities including Guangzhou in the south and the financial hub of Shanghai.

Speculation that the Hong Kong-based 85-year-old was pulling out of China mounted so high that he met the press for 90 minutes in late February to emphasize his confidence in the country's property market and its slowing but still strong economic growth.

China's economy grew 7.7 percent in 2013, the same as in 2012 — which was the slowest rate of expansion since 1999.

The world's second-largest economy has shown signs of weakness recently with a string of disappointing indicators, including on trade, industrial production and consumer spending, raising further concerns about its health.

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