Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the highest pay of all?

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Xia Haijun, chief executive of Evergrande. Photo: evergrande.com

One common trait of China’s richest tycoons is to make their deputy the highest paid executive. China Evergrande Group chief executive James Xia Haijun emerged as the highest paid salary man in a China and Hong Kong listed company with a pay-check of 298 million yuan (US$46.83 million) in 2017, an increase of 12%.

Of his total package, 280 million yuan, or 94%, was cash as he led the No.1 China property firm to a record profit of 37 billion yuan, an increase of 110%.

Xia, who earned a doctorate in industrial economy in 2001, joined property tycoon Hui Ka-yan, or Xu Jiayin’s, firm in 2008 as vice-president and chief executive, bringing in more than 20 years of experience in property development and corporate management.

Xia took full charge of daily operations, including financial and capital operations and management of the group, comprehensive monitoring and legal affairs management, information construction of the group and overseas affairs and public affairs management.

The share price of Evergrande doubled in 2017 as chairman Hui was listed as the richest man in the property sector.

Xia topped Tencent Holdings president Martin Lau Chi-ping as the “super employee,” or best-paid executive, last year. Lau made 237 million yuan ($37.73 million) last year, with the majority of his remuneration coming from share-based payment.

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

But Lau, who sat on almost 47 million shares at Tencent and based on last Monday’s closing price of HK$391 was worth more than HK$18 billion ($230 million), easily made him the wealthiest executive in Hong Kong and China, thanks to China’s No.1 tycoon Pony Ma.

The executive who made the highest money was an unknown senior management man in Tencent. The man, according to its annual report disclosure, made at least HK$615 million ($78 million).

The all-time “super employee” was CK Hutchison co-managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning, who pulled in HK$210 million last year.

The right-handed man of tycoon Li Ka-shing was reported to have made more than HK$3.2 billion in his more than 32 years with Li Ka-shing’s flagships.

Read: The Hong Kong executive earning the top dollar

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