The downturn in property and retail sales combined with global weakness is causing Hong Kong to experience the harshest economic conditions that it’s seen in two decades, Li Ka-shing, chairman of CK Hutchison said Thursday during a press briefing on the conglomerate’s global performance.

Li Ka-shing

In Hong Kong, Li said the economy is experiencing some of its toughest moments in two decades, with “property sales and retail sales [at times] worse than during the Sars epidemic [in 2003].”

In a filing to the Hong Kong’s stock exchange, Li said, “The global economy in 2015 experienced mounting deflationary pressures resulting in a collapse in commodity prices and slow global trade.”

“In addition, volatility in global equity, debt, commodity and currency markets may increase against a background of continued monetary easing in Europe, increased global political uncertainty, economic and refugee issues in Europe, as well as increased geopolitical risk in the Middle East and African regions.

“I am confident that Britain will stay in the EU. If it leaves the EU, we will be more cautious and reduce our [future] investment in Britain,” he told the South China Morning Post.

CK Hutchison, whose businesses range from ports and retail to energy and telecommunications, Thursday posted an adjusted net profit of HK$31.2 billion in its first full-year earnings report after a group reorganization last year. This beat the HK$31 billion consensus estimate in a Thomson Reuters poll of 14 analysts.

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