Li Ka-shing (pictured right), a penniless immigrant and high school dropout who started business selling plastic flowers to build a vast empire in Hong Kong, is stepping down as chairman of his flagship company CK Hutchison Holdings in May, agencies said on Friday. His 53-year-old son Li Tzar Kuoi, also known as Victor Li, will take over the reins from him. Li, 89, will continue to serve the group as a senior adviser. Announcing his retirement at a meeting, Li said he is honoured to have founded Cheung Kong — the company’s original name — and served the society. Starting with real estate, he gradually built a business empire from retail to telecommunications and shipping. Li was known as ‘superman’ for his ability at cutting deals like Vodafone’s (VOD) takeover of Germany’s Mannesmann in 2000. Investors respected his views and his decisions set market trends. Speaking to media, Lin expressed his concern over housing conditions in Hong Kong where property prices have gone up forcing several small businessmen to close their shops and making life harder for people who do not own homes. CK Hutchison Holdings does business in more than 50 countries, including 52 ports around the world, and employs more than 290,000 people. Li knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.
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