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    Richest man in Hong Kong retires
    Richest man in Hong Kong retires
    BUSINESS

    Richest man in Hong Kong retires

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    Hong Kong's richest man is finally retiring.

    Li Ka-shing, aged 89, announced today that he is ready to hang up his hat.

    With an estimated net worth of $35.3 billion, Li is the 23rd richest man in the world.

    Nicknamed “Superman” for his business acumen, Li announced on Friday that he would step down as chairman and executive director of CK Hutchison Holdings. He named his elder son Victor Li as his successor.

    But he's going to stay on in an advisory role.  

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    Li Ka-shing outside the Hong Kong Club in September, 2017.
    Li Ka-shing outside the Hong Kong Club in September, 2017. Photo: K. Y. Cheng

    A son of a schoolteacher, Li is a self-made man.

    In 1940, Li and his family fled to Hong Kong from their hometown of Chaozhou, also known as Teochew, to escape the second Sino-Japanese war. He was 12.

    Soon after, his father passed away of tuberculosis. Li became the breadwinner of the family and started working at a plastic trading company.

    In 1950 he founded his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. The company specialized in producing plastic flowers, which were immensely popular as home decor in the West.

    He soon started investing in real estate, and his company was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1972.

    His company, CK Hutchison, is now a global conglomerate with holdings in over 50 countries.

    The Tang dynasty-style Tsz Shan Monastery, which can accommodate about 400 to 500 visitors every day, is fully funded by Li Ka-shing.
    The Tang dynasty-style Tsz Shan Monastery, which can accommodate about 400 to 500 visitors every day, is fully funded by Li Ka-shing. Photo: Franke Tsang

    “Superman Li” has been hailed as a legend of Hong Kong for years, but he has come in for his fair share of criticism.

    His immense wealth, accumulated from everything from supermarkets to electricity supply, has been seen as the epitome of Hong Kong's income inequality.

    The city is ranked among the most inequitable economy in the world, according to Oxfam.

    In the eyes of many Hongkongers, Li wields so much power that he can control the weather.

    During the city’s typhoon seasons, workers do not need to work if storms reach a certain degree of magnitude.

    Many locals joke that the city is protected by “Li's Field” – the superpower to control whether workers can get a windfall day-off.

    In recent years, Li has been selling his interests in mainland China and Hong Kong, and moving his money to places like the UK and Canada.

    In 2015, a think tank under China's official Xinhua news agency published a scathing op-ed, attacking Li for “spreading pessimism.”

    Grace Tsoi
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    Grace is a senior multimedia producer at Inkstone. She was previously a senior producer for BBC Chinese.
    Grace Tsoi
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    Grace is a senior multimedia producer at Inkstone. She was previously a senior producer for BBC Chinese.
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