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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 17:51 GMT
Net tycoon never got Stanford degree
Hong Kong harbour
Hong Kong was shocked by the admission
By Damian Grammaticas in Hong Kong

The man touted by some as Asia's answer to Bill Gates has suffered the public embarrassment of having to admit he never earned a degree from a top American university, contrary to claims made by his company.


We are a listed company and it is most important for us to be highly transparent... I rushed to start work and did not finish my final six months

Richard Li
Richard Li, one of Hong Kong's richest tycoons, was forced to make the admission that he did not graduate from Stanford University in California after an investigation by an international newspaper.

The affair has set Asia's business and technology abuzz - and has proved highly embarrassing for one of its brightest stars.

It comes at a time when Mr Li has seen the fortunes of his internet company slump from the highs it reached last year.

Bubble burst

Just a few months ago, Mr Li, 34, could do no wrong.

Richard Li
The Stanford pedigree helped Li's reputation as an internet whizz-kid

The son of Hong Kong's wealthiest tycoon, he rode the internet boom and was hailed as one of the leaders of a new business generation.

In the space of two years his company, Pacific Century Cyberworks, grew from nothing to one of Hong Kong's largest companies, with 4,000 employees in 18 countries.

Since then it has all gone wrong.

The internet bubble burst and Pacific Century's shares are worth just over 10% of what they used to be.

The company had claimed Richard Li had a degree in computer engineering from Stanford University in California.

Degree

But company officials told the International Herald Tribune newspaper that Mr Li was not a Stanford graduate.

Li Ka-Shing
Father Li Ka-shing: Voted Asia's top powerful person in 2000
Richard Li issued his own statement saying, he wished to end further media speculation.

He says he left the university before completing his degree for personal reasons.

He has instructed his company to correct all it's publicity material.

If Mr Li is in need of consolation, he might find it in the fact that dropouts do succeed - Bill Gates never finished his degree at Harvard.

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See also:

17 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Tycoon voted Asia's most powerful person
17 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong signs cyberport deal
29 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
Asian telecoms giant takes shape
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong tycoon under media attack
24 Feb 00 | Business
Internet fever sweeps Hong Kong
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