Martin Lau (inset) made 122 million yuan (US$17.68 million) in 2016. Photos: Philippe Lopez/ AFP / Wikimedia Commons
Martin Lau (inset) made 122 million yuan (US$17.68 million) in 2016. Photos: Philippe Lopez/ AFP / Wikimedia Commons

It must be nice to be a Tencent Holdings shareholder, but even nicer if you are among its top management.

Consider President Martin Lau Chi-ping, who took home a nine-digit (yuan) pay cheque that made him one of the highest-paid executives at any Hong Kong-listed company.

The 43-year-old made 122 million yuan (US$17.68 million) in 2016, up 62% from 2015. Most of his remuneration was from his share options, worth 93.87 million yuan.

Tencent shares were up 24% in 2016. Shares in the world’s largest online gaming company, which also owns the instant messaging service Wechat, are up nearly 22% for the year-to-date.

Last week, Lau also cashed in some HK$180 million (US$23.07 million) from disposing 800,000 shares. He still owns 48.16 million shares, worth in excess of HK$10 billion, making him easily the wealthiest manager among Hong Kong-listed companies.

The former Goldman Sachs banker and Mckinsey consultant joined Tencent in 2005 as chief strategy and investment officer and rose to his present role in 2006. He received an electrical engineering degree from Stanford University and a MBA from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.

Lau’s earnings were dwarfed, however, by CK Hutchison co-managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning, who clocked up HK$200.76 million (US$25.8 million) in 2016, his third year in a row in the HK$200 million club.

Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, another co-managing director and the son of Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, received a total remuneration of HK$174 million, including HK$89.5 million from CK Hutchison and HK$84.5 million from CK Property.

Li Ka-shing is known to be a generous boss. Seven executives of CK Hutchison made up a majority portion of the total emolument of HK$487 million awarded to the board. Li himself only takes home HK$5,000 in salary per year. The rest of his earnings come from dividends.

The numbers are revealed in the companies’ just-published earnings reports for 2016.

Another executive who made into the HK$100 million club was AIA group chief executive Mark Tucker. He made US$15.09 million in 2016, of which US$8.1 million was from the share-based payments. The 60 year-old made US$2.2 million in salary and US$4.4 million in bonuses.

However he is expected to get a pay cut when he takes up his new job as HSBC chairman in October. He will receive an annual £1.5 million (US$1.2 million) plus a relocation fee of £300,000 – but that is simply the price to be paid for moving to one of the world’s most prestigious banks, which rarely hires outsiders for the top post.