Tso Kai-sum, who has served at least four decades in Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong group of companies, will step down as the group managing director of the utilities unit Power Assets Holdings from January 1.
He will be succeeded by Wan Chi-tin, Power Assets' executive director and director of engineering (planning and development). Wan, 62, has worked for Power Assets since 1978. He was chief executive of Power Assets' Australian units Powercor and CitiPower between 2000 and 2003.
Tso will become a non-executive director, deputy chairman and senior adviser to the board. He will also become a non-executive director of Cheung Kong Infrastructure, a substantial shareholder of Power Assets.
Tso, 81, is a rarity among top-level executives of major listed companies for his long-service record.
"I have not seen a managing director who is so dedicated to a listed company. He deserves a lot of respect," Alice Hui Suk-fong, a former top-ranking utilities sector brokerage analyst, said. "He is very effective in pulling employees together to work toward their objectives."
Tso, a civil engineer by training, first joined Power Assets, formerly known as Hongkong Electric - the sole electricity supplier to Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island - in 1966. He spent 15 years there in roles that included chief project engineer.
After a decade from 1987 as group managing director at the property unit of Li's conglomerate, Hutchison Whampoa, Tso rejoined Power Assets in 1997 as group managing director.
Tso, who took home HK$17.94 million last year - HK$7.9 million in salary and fringe benefits and HK$10 million in bonuses - will be entitled to an annual fee of HK$3.7 million as a senior adviser.
He will also keep certain benefits such as housing.
His non-executive director appointment will expire at the end of next year, and will be automatically renewed for successive 12-month periods, subject to re-election once every three years.
Wan, who earned HK$4.45 million in salary and benefits and HK$4 million in bonuses last year, will be entitled to annual salary and benefits of HK$5.1 million and a discretionary bonus in his new role.