Why Martin Lau is not the best-paid executive in Hong Kong

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Martin Lau Chi-ping. Photo: CCTV

All told, Tencent Holdings president Martin Lau Chi-ping is the best-paid executive in Hong Kong, but he is not the one with the highest remuneration, which includes direct pay and option shares.

Last year, Lau topped all listed-company directors in remuneration with a 94% surge to 237 million yuan (HK$296 million, or US$37.75 million), including 204.44 million yuan from share-based payment.

However, three other executives earned more than Lau according to Tencent’s annual report.

One made nearly HK$615 million (US$78 million), and two others at least HK$477.5 million and HK$433 million, the annual report disclosed without revealing their names.

That is because they are senior management, not executive directors, so they can stay off the radar screen.

Although their identity is not known, it is very likely that a big proportion of their remuneration is made up of stock options with a low exercise price that benefited most from the strong performance of Tencent shares last year.

Two of the three senior managers could be Xu Chenye, chief information officer, who oversees the strategic planning and development of the website properties and communities, customer relations and public relations and who joined in 1999; and Ren Yuxin, chief operating officer and president of Tencent’s Interactive Entertainment Group, Mobile Internet Group and Online Media Group, who joined in 2000.

Although Martin Lau was not the highest-paid executive in Hong Kong, he was still the highest-paid company director in the city, beating Canning Fok Kin-ning, co-managing director of CK Hutchison, who has dominated the list in the past two decades.

Fok, who is reported to have made more than HK$3.2 billion in his more than 32 years with tycoon Li Ka-shing’s flagship Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa, pulled in HK$210 million last year.

As for Lau, with HK$46.98 million worth of shares, he is sitting on HK$19.6 billion worth of Tencent shares, based on Wednesday’s closing of HK$417.2.

Lau also topped his boss “Pony” Ma Huateng in remuneration. The richest man in China made 45.93 million yuan, including a basic salary and bonus of 44.65 million in 2017, up 19% year on year.

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