Henderson Land Development’s founder Lee Shau-kee became Hong Kong’s wealthiest man on his retirement day, as he handed over the reins of his property company to his two sons, joining a list of the city’s ageing tycoons to make way for their scions to take over. Lee, who turned 90 in March, is stepping away “due to his advanced age”, Henderson said in a stock exchange filing overnight. The tycoon did not speak during a press conference held after Henderson’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday morning, due to a throat ailment. Known affectionately as Fourth Uncle in Hong Kong, Lee will be succeeded by his two sons Peter Lee Ka-kit and Martin Lee Ka-shing, who will take over the reins as joint chairmen and managing directors. The succession plan is unchanged from an announcement made in March, when the elder Lee said he was considering a retirement plan . In a media statement from Henderson, sent before the press conference, Lee said that he would remain involved and advise on important decisions of the company as a director. Lee also expressed confidence in his two sons, saying that although they have slightly different personalities, they work well as a team and share the responsibilities equally. “Ka-kit is flexible while Ka-shing is practical. Ka-kit is mainly responsible for the mainland and Ka-shing for Hong Kong,” said Lee. “For the group, the Hong Kong and mainland markets are equally important. Henderson will continue to seek growth in Hong Kong and the mainland in the future. “In the past few years, I have gradually faded from the frontline. Many things were done by the two of them. They all did well and have achieved perfection.” He said that it was now time for him to spend more time “with my family, play with my grandchildren and continue the charity work”. Lee recounted his philanthropy and achievements in a book distributed to the media, including ranking the fourth in Forbes ’ “The World’s Richest People” list in 1996 with assets of US$12.7 billion and sponsoring more than 100 students to study at Oxford University. With his current wealth estimated by Forbes at US$31.9 billion, Lee is the latest among Hong Kong’s billionaires to hand over executive power to the next generation of successors. Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s wealthiest man and the founder of the Cheung Kong group, handed power to the elder of his two sons last year . David Li Kwok-po, the third-generation scion of the family that founded Bank of East Asia, last week said he would step down as chief executive, and hand over the daily running of the bank to his two sons. Peter Lee, 56, has been an executive director of Henderson Land since 1985 and vice-chairman since 1993. Martin Lee, 48, has been an executive director since 1993 and vice-chairman since 2005. Both are members of the current national committee of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Their takeover comes amid the longest-running property market bull run in Hong Kong’s recent history, with home prices hovering at levels that kept the city as the world’s most expensive urban centre to live in. After the short-lived correction of five months from August to December 2018, Hong Kong’s home prices have risen 9.7 per cent so far this year, according to Centa-City Leading Index, the price index of used homes compiled by Centaline Property Agency. Before the correction, the bull run lasted for 28 months. Martin Lee said at the press conference that he was confident about Hong Kong’s residential and office markets because of the strong demand and shortage of prime commercial space. “I am very optimistic about Hong Kong’s office [market]. As for the residential [market], the demand is strong and interest rate has remained relatively low for a long time. I think it is supportive to home price. I cannot see any big room for downward adjustment,” Martin Lee said. Valued at HK$215 billion (US$27 billion) and founded in 1981 by the elder Lee, Henderson Land is currently the second-largest Hong Kong property developer by market capitalisation, second only to Sun Hung Kai Properties. The elder Lee also reminisced on his friendship and business dealings with the late Kwok Tak-seng and Fung King-hey. Dubbed the “Three Swordsmen”, they founded Sun Hung Kai Properties in 1963. Lee later left the company and founded Henderson Land in 1975. “Apart from the satisfaction of a successful career, that strong feeling of friendship, I’ve missed it my whole life,” Lee said. “It was a pity that the cooperation of the three people did not continue for various reasons.” Lee, who was born into a small merchant’s family in Shunde in Guangdong province, came to Hong Kong when he was barely 20 with less than HK$1,000 to make his way in the world, the tycoon’s biographer Anita Leung Fung-yee said in 1999. Henderson Land is best known as the buyer of the Murray Road car park in Central, which topped the scale as the world’s most expensive commercial plot when Lee beat out eight rivals with a HK$23.28 billion (US$3 billion) bid for the land in 2017. Henderson Land is also a member of the consortium that built the second International Finance Centre (Two IFC), the city’s second-tallest building. Lee’s business empire also encompasses five other listed companies, including the Hong Kong and China Gas Company, the city’s sole supplier of piped gas. Shares of Henderson Land rose in line with the broader index, trading 0.7 per cent higher after the lunch break at HK$49.2.