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Originally published Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 2:36 AM

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HK's Hutchison profit halves on one-off item

Billionaire Li Ka-shing's Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa said Tuesday that profit last year fell by about half compared with the previous year when income was inflated by a huge one-time gain.

AP Business Writer

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HONG KONG —

Billionaire Li Ka-shing's Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa said Tuesday that profit last year fell by about half compared with the previous year when income was inflated by a huge one-time gain.

Hutchison said it earned HK$26.1 billion ($3.7 billion) in 2012. That's down from HK$56 billion ($7.2 billion) in 2011 after booking profit from spinning off port assets in Hong Kong and southern China.

One-time items aside, profit rose 19 percent to HK$26.8 billion ($3.6 billion) at the company, which employs more than a quarter million people in 53 countries in businesses ranging from ports to mobile phones.

Li, Asia's richest man, is worth $31 billion, according to Forbes.

The tycoon said in a statement that economic and financial uncertainty last year hit markets where Hutchison operates "to varying degrees."

However, "whilst uncertainty still remains a challenge for 2013, major economies are showing signs of stabilization and gradual recovery."

Revenue rose 4 percent to HK$398.4 billion ($51 billion) as various divisions including property, mobile phones and retail posted better results.

The ports division posted a 3 percent gain in revenue as container traffic edged up. The company said it plans to open new port berths in mainland China, Mexico, Malaysia and Australia.

Revenue at the retail division, which operates more than 10,000 stores and owns chains including Superdrug in Britain and Marionnaud in France, rose despite the weak economy in Europe. The company said results improved because of cost control measures and improved operating efficiency.

Sales at the European mobile phone unit, 3 Group rose on higher demand for data services from smartphone users.

Separately, Li's Hong Kong property developer, Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd., reported profit fell 30 percent to HK$32 billion as the developer completed fewer projects in 2012 compared with the year before.

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Online:

Hutchison: http://www.hutchison-whampoa.com

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