Chinese investors going it alone less

Updated: 2015-04-09 06:26

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Top Chinese investors are increasingly engaging in co-investing, a shift away from their more traditional solo approach, said Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of the Hurun Report, which publishes a list of China's richest people.

"There's a huge trend of co-investing," he said. "I think gone are the days when it was all about 'me.' Or, 'I invest it,' 'I own my company 100 percent.'

"Like Mr. Wang Jianlin; he's that sort of character, 'My company, I own 100 percent of it all,' or the best part of 100 percent, 'and I'm going to do this all on my own,' " he said, referring to the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, which acquired AMC Theaters in 2012.

Hoogewerf, who spoke at the China Institute on Tuesday, said that many of China's top investors and CEOs are going to graduate business schools, meeting like-minded people, and then co-investing with those they meet.

Elizabeth Harrington, the North American publisher of the Hurun Report, said that China's richest are forming class groups that like to invest together.

"Many, many of China's top investors have been involved in the top business schools, the CEO classes at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (in Beijing), and as a result of that, they've really started to form a class group and liking to invest together," she told China Daily. "It's the classmates theory. The second reason is just spreading the risk of investment."

Chinese investors are forming small investing groups, which Harrington said is "very classically Chinese", while at the same time they're taking a Western tack by trying to spread the risk.

On Wednesday, two Chinese insurance companies—China Life Insurance Co and Ping An Insurance Co of China—announced that they would co-invest in a development site in Boston's Seaport District. It is the first time the two companies have co-invested in real estate outside of China, the companies said in their release.

Rich and powerful Chinese getting together to invest is also conducive to innovation, she said.

"Before, it would have always been one individual and their vision," she said. "One of the things people are learning in business school is when you get a group of smart people together, you can innovate. You would think of ideas you wouldn't have thought of by yourself. "This is actually a very important shift in really bringing in a different approach, a more collaborative approach to innovation in China, which is going to be great for China and great for us in the US also."

The Hurun Report, founded in 1999 and based in Shanghai, is published monthly, reporting on China's wealthiest and producing supplements on topics of interest to China's wealthy. It has a monthly readership close to 1 million, and is made up of three units, media, conferences, and one that produces market research with various financial institutions in China.

Its best-known product is the annual China Rich List, which has tracked the number of Chinese billionaires since the magazine's founding.

Hoogewerf, the founder and chief researcher, said that the magazine captures the explosion of private wealth in China.

"This whole country started from zero," he said. "We haven't seen anything since the robber baron period in America 150 years ago when it all started from zero.

"There's been pretty much nothing else in history in the last 2,000 years of having this explosion of growth from zero," he said. "You're looking at a mere 20-odd years."