Hutchison Whampoa, the ports-to-telecoms group of Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, today said it doubled its net profit in 2014, beating analyst estimates.

The company was boosted by gains from the sales of investments and property revaluation.

Li has been selling assets and increasing the pace of overseas acquisitions - particularly infrastructure, telecoms and retail businesses in Europe.

This has sparked speculation that he is withdrawing from Hong Kong and mainland China, a claim he has consistently denied. 

Hutchison, whose interests include Ireland and Britain's Three Mobile network and Canada's Husky Energy, reported profit of HK$67.16 billion ($8.66 billion). 

That compared with a revised HK$31.11 billion a year prior, and the HK$46.04 billion average estimate of five analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

In January, Li overhauled his business empire to create two listed companies - one focused on property and the other on telecoms - meaning a shift in the incorporated base of his two main firms to the Cayman Islands from Hong Kong.

This has fuelled speculation that the tycoon may be pulling out of China. 

Li's family sold more than $2 billion worth of assets in China last year, including property in Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing. 

In January, news of Li's business overhaul was followed by three overseas bids, including $15.4 billion for Britain's O2, owned by Spain's Telefonica. 

Britain has been high on the octogenarian's shopping list. Li, dubbed "Superman" for his deal-making savvy, controls utility Northumbrian Water Group, retailer Superdrug and Eversholt Rail, which owns around 28% of the UK's passenger trains. 

The tycoon built his empire over more than half a century from a plastic flower business, but has expressed frustration that his listed companies trade at a discount to the book values of their net assets, as is common for conglomerates.