Troubled twilight for Hong Kong's property tycoons

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing, chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, meeting the press on Thursday after he formally retired at the company's annual general meeting in Hong Kong. His retirement, passing the baton to his elder son Victor Li, is the most h
Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing, chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings, meeting the press on Thursday after he formally retired at the company's annual general meeting in Hong Kong. His retirement, passing the baton to his elder son Victor Li, is the most high-profile handover of a wider transition of power in Hong Kong, as the second and third generation of Ivy League and business school-trained offspring take over from their pioneering, self-made fathers and grandfathers.PHOTO: REUTERS

A new generation takes over at a time of waning influence in Beijing and growing anger in Hong Kong over rising inequality.

For decades, aspiring Hong Kongers dreamt of emulating the rags-to-riches rise of Li Ka Shing, the wealthiest man in a city built by commerce, improvisation and not a little luck. But when the 89-year-old billionaire announced his retirement in March, his right-hand man Canning Fok was one of many warning that his like may never be seen again in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

"If I were young, I wouldn't work in Hong Kong," said the managing director of Mr Li's main holding company, CK Hutchison, and one of the city's best-paid executives, earning US$27 million (S$36 million) last year. "I wouldn't spend HK$10million (S$1.7 million) on a 300 square foot apartment, I'd go over there (to mainland China) and spend HK$2 million and put HK$8 million into a start-up."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 13, 2018, with the headline 'Troubled twilight for HK's property tycoons'. Print Edition | Subscribe