Hong Kong tycoon Lee Shau-kee. Photo: DBC

The second generation of Hong Kong’s richest family will take over from their founders after Lee Shau-kee, Hong Kong’s second richest man, retires in May.

The Henderson Land founder and chairman said yesterday he would pass the baton to his two sons – Peter Lee Ka-kit and Martin Lee Ka-shing – who will become joint chairmen and managing directors of the HK$200 billion (US$25.5 billion) property and gas kingdom.

At 91, Lee, nicknamed Uncle Four, is the oldest of the top four property tycoons but he is the last one to give away the keys to his empire.

Rival tycoon Li Ka-shing, who turns 91 this July, gave up his chairmanship to elder son Victor Li Tzai-kuoi – but he remains as a senior advisor to the board. His other son Richard Li Tzai-kai owns telecom operator PCCW and pan-Asian insurance company FWD.

Sun Hung Kai Properties, in which Lee was one of the founders, has been run by Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, the third son of deceased Kwok Tack-seng after a boardroom battle over the past decade. New World Development was also run by second-generation Henry Cheng Kar-shun, son of Cheng Yu-tung, who passed away in 2016.

Lee, who has avoided the media spotlight except when he shows up at his annual general meeting, earned his nickname as the ‘Stock God’ after he made big money from investing in China-related stocks.

In his heyday, the “Oracle of Hong Kong” sat on a profit of HK$100 billion from mega initial public offerings like China Life and Country Garden in 2007. He became a media darling for offering stock tips to retail investors, who took his advice as if he was an Asian equivalent of the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett.

But things turned sour after his paper profit went down substantially during the global financial crisis in 2008. Lee said later he was not a Stock God, just an ordinary investor.

“The famous Stock God is Warren Buffett. I am not qualified, even as his copycat,” Lee said.

He was also one of the few tycoons who endorsed the idea of index-linked donations. He said in his biography that as long as the Hang Seng Index stays above 30,000 points, he could donate HK$1 billion each year to charities. He fulfilled his promise in 2017. And last year he said he would donate HK$2 billion if the Hang Seng reaches 40,000.

Lee’s success is defined by when and where to invest. A firm believer of picking the right sector, he told youngsters the Chinese traditional wisdom of “men will be damned to choose a wrong career as women a husband”, he suggested men should spend time accumulating wealth before getting married too early.

He said: “I used to rank my career as No.1, followed by wealth, health and family. Now my priority is health, family, career and wealth”.

He also said he would be willing to give away 90% of his wealth if he could be 10 years younger.

Enjoy your retirement, Uncle Four.

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