MTR Corp finance director Clement Kwok King-man has resigned to join Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels where he will become managing director and chief executive. Mr Kwok will replace Pierre Boppe at the hotels group. An MTRC spokesman said it hoped to have Mr Kwok's successor in place before his last working day on January 31. Hongkong and Shanghai company secretary Roger Henderson said Mr Kwok was familiar with the hotel business. 'He was involved on and off in the company when he was head of corporate finance at investment bank Shroders Asia.' He said Mr Boppe would remain a director, after returning to Switzerland for family reasons. Analysts were surprised at the timing of Mr Kwok's departure in the face of the Government's delayed sale of the second tranche of MTRC shares for HK$15 billion. HSBC Securities analyst Maurien Yau said: 'The news is surprising. But I don't think his resignation will cause any negative impact on the company.' The resignation also comes during a bitter contest with the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp for the rights to build and operate the HK$25 billion Sha Tin-to-Central railway corridor - a project important to the prospective growth in profit and patronage of both carriers. A Government decision was originally expected this month and will be followed by the share sale. However, the sale has been delayed as a result of recent reverses on the stock market. Hongkong and Shanghai runs nine Peninsula hotels in the United States and Asia, including the landmark Peninsula in Hong Kong. MTRC chairman Jack So Chak-kwong said the group regretted Mr Kwok's decision to leave and complimented him on his contributions to the group.