Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing to retire

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing

Li said the senior management will continue to work with Victor in leading the business towards the next new horizon of growth, according to public broadcaster RTHK.

In the chairman's statement for 2017 posted by CK Asset to the Hong Kong exchange today, Li noted that, "I have chose to step down as Chairman of the Company and retire from the position of executive director at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting of the Company".

Li, 89, will retire after the annual general meeting on May 10, the ports-to-telecoms conglomerate said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.

At 89, he has made a decision to hand over power to eldest son Victor, who has been waiting in the wings to run the sprawling conglomerate for the past 10 years.

Mr Li is well known for his philanthropy and has donated tens of billions of dollars to education and medical projects.

Through subsidiary CK Infrastructure Holdings, CK holds rail and gas operators in the United Kingdom and Australia, as well as Hong Kong's electric utility.

While CK Asset made news by selling the Center on Hong Kong's Queen's Road for HK$40.2 billion ($5.15 billion) previous year, the company remains one of the region's biggest real estate investors.

Along the way, he led raids on rivals, and built strong, and later controversial, ties with mainland Chinese leaders.

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Also unlike his rivals, including fellow hongs Swire Pacific and Jardine Matheson, he proved adept at something else: selling assets.

"I would like to express my heart-felt appreciation to our shareholders for their unfailing confidence and support in the past years", Li said from a news conference in Hong Kong. "Look at anything he sold and, plus or minus a year, it's hard to say he didn't pick the top - that's a tremendous skill".

One of Li's best-known deals was the 1999 sale of the United Kingdom telecoms unit Orange to Germany's Mannesmann at the height of a market boom. After Vodafone bought Mannesmann soon after, the subsequent forced disposal of Orange to France Telecom produced a second windfall for the Li empire, which netted $21 billion in profits from the two deals.

Shrouded in myth and filled with apocryphal anecdotes and tales of family misfortune, his name has become synonymous with against-the-odds success by sheer hard work.

Despite his retirement, the sprightly Li said he would not completely rest.

"He is worthy of the nickname 'Superman, ' but he may not be suitable as a bellwether for the future", The Global Times, a newspaper close to China's ruling communist party, said in 2015.

"I like to read history very much. and about my country". Li, however, has denied turning his back on China and says he is confident in the country and its president Xi Jinping.

"Li's investment is a drop in the ocean compared to the huge size of the Chinese economy", it said. "My relationship with the central government is pretty good".

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