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Hong Kong billionaire Li buys NZ waste company for US$412 million

HONG KONG -- A Hong Kong company controlled by Asia's richest man said Tuesday that it's buying New Zealand's second biggest waste disposal company.

Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd., controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, is paying NZ$490 million (US$412 million) in cash to buy EnviroWaste Services Ltd. from Australian private equity firm Ironbridge Capital.

The deal represents a tidy profit for Ironbridge, which bought EnviroWaste in 2007 for NZ$259 million. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2013.

It's the latest overseas acquisition for the Hong Kong company. Last year the company bought a renewable power transmission network in Australia and was part of a group that purchased a gas company in Britain. It also owns utility businesses in New Zealand and Canada and highways and bridges in mainland China.

EnviroWaste serves about half a million residential and business customers across New Zealand. It has more than 500 employees and owns garbage collection and recycling depots, landfills, transfer stations and electricity generating stations that convert methane gas from waste dumps.

“Waste management provides good opportunity for future growth,” Group Managing Director Kam Hing-lam said in a statement. “It is expected that New Zealand will experience long-term waste volume growth as the economy continues to expand.”

Cheung Kong Infrastructure is one of several Hong Kong companies controlled by 84-year-old Li, whose fortune is estimated by Forbes at US$30 billion.

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