Li Ka-shing eyes Israel for oil-sands, water tech

JERUSALEM Wed May 5, 2010 10:47am EDT

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., speaks during a news conference after an annual general meeting with shareholders in Hong Kong May 21, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., speaks during a news conference after an annual general meeting with shareholders in Hong Kong May 21, 2009 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's Hutchison Whampoa is keen on investing in Israeli technology companies specializing in oil-sands and water technologies, Israel's Finance Ministry said on Tuesday.

Li expressed his interest during talks in Hong Kong with visiting Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, the ministry said.

Hutchison's subsidiary Hutchison Water has a 49 percent stake in SDL Desalination Ltd, which last year won a government tender to build Israel's largest desalination plant.

Li also controls Husky Energy Inc, Canada's No.3 oil exploration and refining company. Husky last month completed initial engineering work on the first phase of the Sunrise oil sands project, which it co-owns with BP Plc.

The partners have issued tenders for engineering and construction work at the site, which is expected to produce its first oil in 2014.

Israel is a leader in developing new water technologies and it expects exports of $2.5 billion annually by 2011.

Li's Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd last year sold its 51.3 percent stake in Israeli telecom operator Partner Communications to Scailex Corp for $1.38 billion.

Li is the richest man in East Asia with an estimated net worth of $21 billion and his companies make up about 15 percent of the Hong Kong stock market's total capitalization, Forbes magazine said in March.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

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