Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing will reportedly be stepping down as chairman of his global conglomerate CK Hutchison by next year.
Li, 88, told associates of his plans without giving a specific date, the Wall Street Journal reported. As he said in a Bloomberg interview last year, “I could retire today if I wanted to, in the next five minutes or whenever.”
“There is no concrete timetable at this stage and Mr. Li will make his official announcement when he decides to retire,” CK Hutchison said in a statement, adding that the business magnate is in “very good” health.
Unidentified sources, however, speculated that Li might retire on his 90th birthday in July 2018. His son Victor is expected to take over.
Richard Harris, CEO of Port Shelter Investment Management based in Hong Kong, commented:
“On the whole it would be a bit of a shock. Not only is he a local entrepreneur who built things up in terms of Hong Kong but he really got it in terms of turning his empire into a global empire rather than just a big company based in Hong Kong.”
However, Li will remain as a senior adviser and maintain his physical office in the company’s local headquarters.
Li, known in Hong Kong as “Superman,” currently stands as the city’s richest man. He ranks second in Asia following Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
Born in Guangdong, China, Li came to Hong Kong as a refugee, sweeping factory floors in his youth. According to Bloomberg, he made his first fortune in a plastic flower manufacturer that eventually became the biggest producer of ornaments in Asia.
CK Hutchison formed in March 2015 after the merging of Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa, both of which he ran.
Today, the multinational conglomerate employs more than 290,000 people in over 50 countries around the world, doing business in energy, infrastructure, retail and telecommunications, among other services.