Lee Shau-kee plans to retire, hand over reins to two sons

March 21, 2019 14:35
Henderson Land Development chairman and managing director Lee Shau-kee is flanked by sons Peter (right) and Martin. Photo: HKEJ

Property magnate Lee Shau-kee, 91, is considering stepping down from his posts as chairman and managing director of Henderson Land Development (00012.HK) for “being advanced in age”, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Wednesday. 

The board has been informed of the plan, in which Lee also proposed to appoint his two sons Peter Lee Ka-kit and Martin Lee Ka-shing as joint chairmen and managing directors of the company, while Lee himself will remain as a director of the company to continue his service, according to the filing.

The company said details of Lee’s decision and related arrangements will be announced during its next annual general meeting on May 28.

Hong Kong and China Gas (00003.HK) also submitted an exchange filing for the same plan on Wednesday, saying Lee’s decision and future arrangements will be announced at the company’s annual general meeting on the same date.

Lee’s business empire, whose total market value is more than HK$500 billion, includes seven listed companies – Henderson Land, Hong Kong and China Gas, Towngas China (01083.HK), Miramar Hotel and Investment (00071.HK), Hong Kong Ferry Holdings (00050.HK), Henderson Investment (00097.HK) and Sunlight REIT (00435.HK).

Henderson Land Development is the majority shareholder of the rest, while Lee and his sons own over 70 percent stake in the property developer, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

A spokesman for Henderson Land Development said Lee’s proposal to make his two sons joint chairmen and managing directors of the company was based on the fact that the duo have been working together for many years, are familiar with the company’s businesses and have their respective duties – Peter Lee, the elder of the two siblings, mainly taking charge of mainland business while the younger Martin Lee overseeing Hong Kong business – and employees have been used to such an arrangement.

Alfred Chan Wing-kin, executive director of Hong Kong and China Gas, said he also learned of Lee's plan to step down on Wednesday.

Chan said since Lee is already 91, he needs more rest, and therefore his stepping down is not surprising, adding that it is something Lee has to do sooner or later.

Chan also believes the current development direction of Hong Kong and China Gas will not change after Lee passes the torch to his sons as they have been on the board of directors for quite some time.

Born in Guangdong in 1929, Lee, fondly called “Uncle Four” because he is the fourth child of his parents, came to Hong Kong in 1948 alone and founded Henderson Land Development in 1976 before taking it public five years later.

Lee was ranked second on the 2019 Forbes Hong Kong Rich List released in February, with a net worth of US$30 billion.

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