New World Development is in the midst of its biggest leadership change, with chairman Cheng Yu-tung yesterday announcing his decision to step down from his position to make way for a new generation of leadership.
Cheng, who in 1970 founded New World, now one of Hong Kong's leading property companies, will relinquish both posts of chairman and executive director, effective from today.
His son Henry Cheng Kar-shun, the managing director, will succeed him as chairman.
'After having been working for nearly 70 years, it's time to retire,' said the 86-year-old Cheng, the fourth-richest man in the city according to Forbes.
Over the years, the group had groomed a number of talented leaders, Cheng said.
As part of the succession plan, executive director Adrian Cheng Chi-kong - Cheng Yu-tung's grandson - will take up the additional post of joint general manager.
In this role, Adrian Cheng, who is the son of Henry Cheng, will oversee the day-to-day operation and business strategy along with joint managing director Chen Guangzhan.
Chen will be appointed an executive director, according to an announcement yesterday.
Henry Cheng's daughter Sonia Cheng Chi-man will also be appointed an executive director.
The 31-year-old is currently the chief executive of New World Hospitality and oversees the group's hotel and project management divisions.
David Sin Wai-kin, who has been an executive director of New World since 1970, will also retire.
The company said that all the appointments and resignations would be effective from today.
Henry Cheng said his father had been planning to retire for some time now. 'He's 86 and doesn't want to deal with much pressure. As chairman, he is required to fulfil many obligations. For example, he has to attend a number of meetings in the morning even though he prefers to get up late. After retirement, he can choose whether or not to attend these meetings.'
Henry Cheng said he hoped to keep his new position of chairman for the next 20 years.
'The change of guard is not surprising. This is part of the handover process. Adrian and Sonia started taking up more responsibilities a year ago,' said David Ng, a property analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities.
'These days Cheng Snr leaves much of the management of New World to Henry. His stepping down will not make any significant impact on the group's operation and development strategy,' Ng said.
'I am glad that Chen Guangzhan, who is not a family member, has been placed in a very important position in the company. It tells shareholders that the group focuses on talents.'
New World shares yesterday fell 0.19 per cent to close at HK$10.68.