Fri, May 11, 2018 - Page 10 News List

HK’s ‘Superman’ hangs up cape

RETIREMENT:Billionaire tycoon Li Ka-shing turned over the reins of his flagship company, CK Hutchinson Holdings, to his eldest son, Victor

AFP, HONG KONG

Li Ka-shing yesterday waves goodbye to journalists after he formally retired as CK Hutchison Holdings chairman at the company’s annual general meeting in the Grand Ballroom of the Harbour Grand Kowloon hotel in Hong Kong.

Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠) yesterday brought down the curtain on a storied career, saying he had done “the best I can.”

The 89-year-old, known affectionately in the territory as Superman for his business acumen, stepped down as chairman of his flagship company CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd (長和集團) and handed the reins to his eldest son, Victor Li (李澤鉅), after an upbeat annual general meeting.

A wartime refugee who arrived in Hong Kong from China, Li got his start in 1950 making plastic flowers and over the years built a sprawling conglomerate that has become part of the fabric of Hong Kong life, ranging from Internet services to supermarket chains.

The tycoon yesterday greeted a large crowd of reporters with open arms and big smiles, saying: “One person’s ability cannot bring about change. It requires everyone to work together and share a dream goal.”

Asked about his proudest achievement he said: “I’ve done the best I can.”

He told reporters: “I will miss you all ... you have always been my friends.”

Li announced his retirement in the middle of March when his companies released their full-year results, finally ending mounting speculation about his plans.

A sweeping revamp of his vast empire in 2015 was seen as a sign that he was paving the way for Victor Li to take over.

After leaving the firm Li Ka-shing said he plans to focus on his charity, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, to which he has already pledged one-third of his assets. The foundation funds education and health initiatives around the world.

Li Ka-shing has an estimated fortune of more than US$33.3 billion, according to Bloomberg and Forbes.

Local media followed the tycoon closely during the day, including setting up a livestream outside his mansion and running footage of his early morning exercise routine.

“I’ll keep working, just doing different things,” a smiling Li Ka-shing said to reporters huddled around his car as he set off for the day.

He told local television network i-Cable (有線寬頻) over the telephone before his last meetings with shareholders as chairman that he was confident about his son taking over, having worked with him for decades.

Analysts said while the retirement of one of Hong Kong’s most famous characters is significant, it would not impact the performance of his companies.

“The end of the era is just something symbolic ... I don’t see any changes in terms of the management style,” Kingston Securities (金利豐證券) executive director of research Dickie Wong (黃德几) said, adding the “energetic and healthy” mogul would continue to provide guidance.

CK Hutchison controls diverse assets in more than 50 countries, and has recently counted Europe as a significant income source.

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