March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Li Ka-shing, Hong Kongâs richest man, and a group of fellow tycoons are underwriting about $1.1 billion of HSBC Holdings Plcâs stock sale, lending support in a city that accounts for a third of the bankâs investor base. Li, Lee Shau-kee, Joseph Lau and Cheng Yu-tung, who between them have a combined wealth of $33 billion according to Forbes magazine, will underwrite HSBCâs offer to sell shares to existing investors at 254 pence apiece, said their representatives. Equivalent to HK$28, that is almost half the value HSBCâs Hong Kong-listed shares closed at on Feb. 27, the last trading day before the sale was announced. HSBC, founded in Hong Kong more than 140 years ago, is so synonymous with the city of 7 million people that residents refer to it simply as âthe bank.â Based in London and with operations in 86 countries and territories, HSBC gets most of its profit from Asia and is Hong Kongâs largest provider of mortgages. Should HSBCâs operations deteriorate, the tycoons âwill be prepared for an exit,â said Winson Fong, who helps manage $2 billion at SG Asset Management H.K. Ltd. in the city. âThey are very rich people, and you shouldnât use them as reference unless your pockets are the same size as theirs.â Fong, who said his comments reflect his personal views, not his firmâs, wouldnât say whether SG would subscribe to the offer. HSBC spokesman David Hall declined to comment. HSBC, Europeâs biggest bank by market value, plans to raise 12.5 billion pounds in the U.K.âs biggest rights offering, after 2008 profit fell 70 percent. It joins Standard Chartered Plc and DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in turning to existing investors to shore up balance sheets battered by the global recession. Li âConfidentâ HSBC will pay arrangers Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and eight other firms 2.75 percent in fees from the money the London-based bank plans to raise. Li, who has a net worth of $16.2 billion according to Forbes, will underwrite about $300 million of HSBCâs offer because he is âconfidentâ in the bank, said Winnie Cheong, a spokeswoman at his flagship company, Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. Li is underwriting the sale in his personal capacity, she said. Lee, chairman of Henderson Land Development Co., Hong Kongâs fifth-largest real estate developer, will underwrite HK$2.34 billion of the offer, company spokeswoman Bonnie Ngan said today. In Leeâs opinion, HSBCâs announcement that it will scale back U.S. consumer lending operations is a âpositive move, and HK$28 is very cheap,â Ngan said. Forbes Asia ranked Lee as Hong Kongâs third-richest man, with a net worth of $9 billion. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aIPehzecKqA0&refer=home I AM impressed.