Billionaire Li Ka-shing.  Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip
Billionaire Li Ka-shing. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing has decided he will retire from his business empire by next year. He says he will remain a “senior adviser” to his flagship conglomerate, CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Li, who was born in Chiuchow, Guangdong province, in 1928, and moved to Hong Kong aged 12, has told associates he plans to step down as chairman of CK Hutchison. 

The billionaire, who will turn 89 next month, hasn’t specified a date but is likely to step down before his 90th birthday in July next year. He will keep his office atop the Cheung Kong Center in Hong Kong island’s Central district.

“There is no concrete timetable at this stage and Mr. Li will make his official announcement when he decides to retire,” CK Hutchison said in a statement. Li, who is in “very good” health, has discussed retirement periodically. The statement said he continues to have confidence in the abilities of his elder son, 52-year-old Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, to take over.

Li said in 2012 that he would be succeeded by Victor but that he would also support the businesses of his second son, Richard Li Tzar-kai, who is 50 at present, with cash and liquidated assets. In an interview with Bloomberg in June last year, Li said he could retire at anytime.

Li was the richest man in Hong Kong and ranked No. 19 globally in Forbes’ 2017 rich list published in March. He was said to have a net worth of US$31.2 billion

Politics, charity and technology

Nicknamed “Superman”, Li is not only a business mogul but also a heavyweight on Hong Kong’s political scene. He tended, formerly, to comment on Hong Kong’s social and political issues twice a year during his companies’ post-results media briefings. However, he has observed a lower profile in recent years as relations between Beijing and Hong Kong’s democrats have turned sour over the matter of political reform.

Over the past two decades, Li had devoted much of his focus on education and new technology.

In 1980, he founded the Li Ka Shing Foundation, a charity organization which set up Shantou University in Guangdong province the following year. In 2005, Li donated H$1 billion (US$128 million) to the Medical Faculty of the University of Hong Kong, which later changed its name to the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine.

Li once said that the foundation was his “third son” and would share one-third of his fortune.

In 1999, he set up Horizon Ventures, a private equity fund, to manage his global investments in new technology.

Shares of CK Hutchison closed down 0.2% at HK$98.5 on Tuesday. The Hang Seng Index fell 82 points, or 0.31%, to 25,843.