Outgoing MTR chief wants to try something new

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am


The outgoing chief executive of the MTR Corporation says he would like to try something new after his retirement at the end of the year, but would never choose politics.

Chow Chung-kong (pictured) said he would become a non-executive director of two to three more companies - on top of his directorships of insurance giant AIA and global mining firm Anglo American.

Chow, 61, will step down on December 31 after eight years at the government-controlled rail operator. He recently joined the Hong Kong Jockey Club's board of stewards.

In a gathering with reporters, he said: 'Throughout my career I have been in nine different industries ... and I still want to try something new.' He spent his early working years in chemical engineering and with a vehicle and aerospace components company.

One sphere he won't go into is politics. 'I'm not suitable for politics. I'm a businessman who is used to being result-oriented. But in politics, the way you proceed is very important. I think I would get impatient as a politician,' he said. 'Tell me, which businessman-turned-politician has done well?'

He would not say if any candidates in the chief executive election had asked for his support.

'Rail companies are closely connected to society, and I do value society's changing and increasing opinions,' he said. The MTR Corp had increased discounts to passengers over the years, he said. This year, about HK$170 million in discounts was given out - about 15 per cent of the company's pre-tax profit.

Chow will be succeeded by Jay Walder, the former chairman and chief executive of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Shortly after Chow joined as chief executive, the MTR was hit by service delays due to signalling problems, arson attacks and short circuits. The 2007 launch of the company's HK$1 billion Lantau cable car ride was also plagued by problems, resulting in public criticism of haphazard maintenance and the resulting suspensions of services.

During his tenure, the company was also hit by a row over the discovery that the issuer of the Octopus smart cards, in which the MTR Corp has a big stake, reaped HK$44 million from selling the personal data of 1.97 million cardholders to other firms.