18 January 2019
How much a listed company is paying its top executives and directors offers investors some insight into how it is run. Photo: AFP
How much a listed company is paying its top executives and directors offers investors some insight into how it is run. Photo: AFP

Why do these young executives get paid HK$60,000 a month?

There’s no hard and fast rule about how much a company director or top executive should be receiving by way of remuneration.

Some, like CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. (00001.HK) group managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning, take home nine-digit paychecks, while some, like his boss Li Ka-shing, only pocket HK$5,000 a year.

But a recent hiring by China Fortune Investments (Holding) Ltd. (08116.HK) managed to raise some eyebrows after it was learned that its executive director would only be receiving a salary lower than what a fresh university graduate normally gets.

The Growth Enterprise Market-listed company hired Li Ka-ki, a 30-year-old lady executive with eight years of experience in public relations, for an annual remuneration of HK$120,000. 

No bonus or share option was mentioned. Has the company double-checked the announcement before it was released?

For the price of HK$10,000 a month, the company, which trades wine, cigar and golf products, is indeed lucky to have been able to get an industry veteran with over five years’ experience in travel and private jet management on top of a WSET Level 2 intermediate certificate in wines and spirits and a Bachelor of Science degree in English Business Management from Jinan School of Management.

Right, she’s not from Ivy League, but that doesn’t explain why her pay is well below the HK$15,500 monthly median average of Hong Kong workers, or the salary of a fledgling financial reporter.

How much a listed company is paying its executives has been under the spotlight because many investors take it as a sign of how prudent a company is.

Just this week, Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd. (02689.HK) paid its non-executive director Zhang Lianpeng, 25, a director’s fee of 720,000 yuan (US$107,000).

Zhang, nephew of chairlady Cheung Yan and son of another director, Zhang Chengfei, graduated from the New York University with a Bachelor of Arts degree and unspecified years of experience in administration, project management, accounting and corporate financing.

The announcement does not explain how the young man’s qualifications exactly contribute to the company’s development, or why he deserves the pay of a top-caliber investment banker.

Two months ago, mainboard-listed Share Economy Group Ltd. (01178.HK) also presented a mystery when it named a 22-year-old lady, Meng Xiaoqian, its chief executive. The company didn’t bother to tell investors her educational background and work experience, except to say that she would be receiving a monthly pay of HK$60,000.

Share Economy also announced the appointment of Christina Chan, 23, as chief financial officer, also with a salary of HK$60,000 a month. Chan graduated from the University of Manchester in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in International Management.

Chan was a vice president at Shenzhen Nanyin Investment Holding and interned at China Cinda (HK) Asset Management. She also happens to be the daughter of Chen Chunhui, who owns over 9 percent of the company.

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EJ Insight writer

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