HOTLINE: In LME football, Li passes to Jones…

HKEx ceo Charles Li played golf during his days in the USA –“it helps focus the mind” – but he is now best known for his love of football and is a passionate Manchester United fan.

HKEx ceo Charles Li played golf during his days in the USA –“it helps focus the mind” – but he is now best known for his love of football and is a passionate Manchester United fan.

That does not go down too well with his 18-year-old son, who is an avid supporter of Arsenal, Manchester United’s UK premier league rival.

The pair watches games together with plenty of friendly banter: Li teasing over the move of Dutch striker Robin van Persie from Arsenal to his team; his son accusing him of only supporting Manchester United because they have won the championship more often.

Li says he has become a “big fan” of football over time and has seen his team play on a number of occasions. “I like the style, the elegance, the winning,” he told Metal Bulletin Magazine.

The retirement this year of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after 27 years has left Li “sad, but he’s at an age when we knew it was going to happen”.

But Li is reluctant to compare his personal management style to that of a famous football manager. “I can’t compare myself to my idol, that wouldn’t be respectful”, instead preferring to stick to playing in HKEx’s own little league.

“When I was younger I played in central defence but that’s too much responsibility and too embarrassing now that I am older,” he said. He sticks to being a striker, “pretending to run and having the chance of kicking the ball towards the goal when I get near it”.

“Hopefully the goalie will take pity and realise the ceo is kicking,” he joked.

Ironically, Manchester United tried but failed to launch an IPO in Hong Kong, looking instead at Singapore and eventually listing in New York to become the most valuable football club in the world.

Li said he is looking forward to this year’s LME Week, particularly to “meeting a lot of old friends without having to worry about giving a speech this year”.

Will Li dress at the dinner as David Beckham, the recently appointed ambassador for football in China and a former Manchester United player – as he did at the first LME Asia dinner in June?

“I would like to avoid wearing a tuxedo but I respect the LME tradition and will go ahead and put on a tuxedo again,” he said.

And the entertainment? “I have done my part. You will have to ask Garry what he might do.”

Over to you, Mr Jones.

Andrea Hotter
Twitter: @andreahotter