Hong Kong's richest, Li Ka-shing, retires at 89

Hong Kong's richest, Li Ka-shing, retires at 89

Hong Kong's richest, Li Ka-shing, retires at 89

Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing announced his retirement as Chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings on Friday, bringing to a close a rags-to-riches story that made him a hero in the freewheeling capitalist hub.

Li, 89, will retire after the annual general meeting on May 10, the port-to-telecom conglomerate said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse. A factory apprentice when he was 13, Li, was called "Superman" for his work ethic and business success.

Li, a wartime refugee, 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.

While Hong Kong's adoration of the billionaire and his story has waned somewhat in recent years, he is still stepping aside from one of Asia's most outward-looking empires. CK Hutchison controls diverse assets in over 50 countries, and has recently counted Europe as a significant income source.

"I've been working for a long time, too long," a relaxed Li said.

Li will, as expected, stay on as senior adviser. His eldest son Victor Li, who was named successor several years ago, will take over the reins of the business. Victor, already on the board, is seen as a steady hand unlikely to change course.

"I've always said I could go on a trip anytime, the company would still run the same way," Li said.

During his tenure, Li had increased the pace of overseas acquisitions, helping boost the group's profits with growth in the European telecom business offsetting a drop in the value of the British business following Brexit.

Through his flagship CK Hutchison, Li controls the biggest container port operator in the world, Canadian oil giant Husky Energy, one of Europe's leading telecoms operators, as well as infrastructure assets and a long-time interest in Britain that saw him awarded a knighthood in 2000.