Caption Li Ka-shing waves goodbye to journalists after announcing his retirement as chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd at a news conference in Hong Kong, China March 16, 2018.
89-year old Li Ka-shing said Friday he will step down as chairman of his flagship conglomerate, CK Hutchison Holdings.
His retirement will bring the curtain down on a career in business spanning 75 years that has earned him a net worth of $35bn (£25bn), according to Forbes, ranking him in the top 30 richest people in the world.
Courted by China's leaders in the years before and after the return of Hong Kong, Li had run into criticism in Beijing of late after a series of sales of his companies' assets in mainland China as part of a restructuring of the businesses. Having left school early he made his first fortune exporting plastic flowers to the U.S. From there he built a corporate empire spanning property, ports, energy and telecoms, just. He will be succeeded by his eldest son, Victor Li, who is now deputy chairman of both entities. A major figure in China's emergence as an economic superpower, Li is the most prominent among a generation of Hong Kong tycoons who charged across the border after Deng Xiaoping and his successors promoted economic reforms.
One of Li's best-known deals in this respect was the 1999 sale of its United Kingdom telecoms unit, Orange, to Germany's Mannesmann at the height of a market boom.
Li said in a statement: "I have chose to step down as chairman of the group and retire from the position of executive director at the forthcoming annual general meeting of the company". "No one can replace Li Ka-shing as the legendary founder of the largest conglomerate in Hong Kong".
Li at a golf course in Hong Kong in 1992.
They also blame the oligopolistic dominance of tycoons such as Li for social ills including a gaping wealth gap, extensive harbor reclamation, heritage demolition and extortionate property prices.
"We call him 'Superman, ' so you can imagine the weight of his words, which can hardly be matched by anyone in Hong Kong", said Alfred Lau, an analyst at Bocom International Holdings Co.in Hong Kong, in 2016.
It has also been an incredible journey from rags to richest after arriving in Hong Kong as a penniless immigrant in 1940. His best known company in Taiwan is pharmacy chain Watson's.
Li was born July 29, 1928 in Chaozhou, a city in southern China's Guangdong Province.
"He is worthy of the nickname 'Superman, ' but he may not be suitable as a bellwether for the future", The Global Times, a newspaper close to China's ruling communist party, said in 2015.
Though rarely accessible in recent years, the bespectacled tycoon enjoys shooting from the hip during public appearances and hasn't shied from making controversial and politically barbed comments. Calling Chinese state media reports of his wavering commitment, based on his selling properties in Shanghai to focus on investment overseas, "misguided", Li said he was committed to the world's second-biggest economy for the long term and had been since the late 1970s.
His retirement announcement illustrates his confidence over business continuity, given that he has prepared his son for several decades, Fan said.