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MTR’s Chow to Retire as Chief Executive in December 2011

MTR Corp., Hong Kong’s subway operator and a property owner, said Chief Executive Officer Chow Chung Kong will retire in December 2011 when his contract expires.

MTR will begin a worldwide search to replace Chow, 60, who became CEO in December 2003, the company said in a statement to Hong Kong’s stock exchange today.

Since Chow took over, MTR’s shares have risen more than 170 percent, compared with an 84 percent increase in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. During his tenure, the company has merged with another railway operator in the city and also started constructions of a HK$66.9 billion ($8.6 billion) train line that will connect Hong Kong to mainland China’s planned 16,000-kilometer (10,000 mile) high speed rail network.

MTR has also expanded outside Hong Kong to run metro lines in Beijing and Shenzhen, with other rail franchise operations in Melbourne, London and Stockholm.

MTR, 76 percent-owned by the Hong Kong government and one of the biggest owners of undeveloped residential sites in the city, has seen its earnings boosted by real estate prices, which have risen more than 50 percent since the beginning of 2009.

The company sells land to developers for a cut of their profits.

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