Lee Shau-kee in no hurry to give up Henderson Land chair

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 June, 2015, 10:29am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 June, 2015, 12:18am

At 86, tycoon Lee Shau-kee admits he needs to reduce his workload, but he is in no rush to relinquish the chairmanship of flagship Henderson Land Development, which controls the HK$189 billion real estate empire he founded nearly 40 years ago.

His comments after Tuesday's Henderson Land annual general meeting follow Monday's announcement that he will step down as chairman and managing director of Henderson Investment, which is 69.27 per cent held by Henderson Land, from July 1.

His younger son, 43-year-old Martin Lee Ka-shing, currently the vice-chairman of Henderson Investment, will become its chairman and managing director, the company said in a stock exchange filing on Monday. Martin Lee and 51-year-old brother Peter Li Ka-kit are both vice-chairmen of Henderson Land.

Lee Shau-kee said it was time to prepare a succession plan, although he stopped short of spelling out a concrete retirement plan.

"I'm 86 now. I should arrange for the more energetic next generation to share my workload," he said. "Even if I can live until the age of 100, there will be just 14 years to go. There is a limit for one's lifespan and health. It will be a long time for me even if I'm able to work for another three, five or seven years."

The group's business was currently shared by his two sons, he said. "Ka-kit [Peter] is responsible for the mainland, where he has ample room for future growth, and Ka-shing [Martin] oversees the Hong Kong business," he said.

The market capitalisation of Henderson Investment is only HK$2.5 billion, which is small when compared with Henderson Land's HK$189 billion.

"The size of Henderson Investment is equivalent to the investment in a property project," Lee said. "I hope Ka-shing will grow it bigger."

Shares of Henderson Investment climbed 9.09 per cent yesterday to 84 HK cents after Monday's announcement, while Henderson Land remained unchanged at HK$62.85.

Lee said he would set up a HK$1 billion charity fund to help the poor when the Hang Seng Index topped 30,000 points. The benchmark closed at 27,466.72 on Tuesday and is up 16.35 per cent so far this year. And Lee reiterated his long-held view that buying stocks offered better returns than buying a flat.

Lee said he would continue increasing his stakes in Henderson Land and Sun Hung Kai Properties. He spent HK$1.11 billion last month to increase his stake in Henderson Land from 69.6 per cent to 70.17 per cent and a further HK$715 million to increase his holding in SHKP to 1.81 per cent from 1.66 per cent.