Date
18 December 2017
Guo Guangchang plays down the comparison to Warren Buffett but his investment philosophy is inspired by the Sage of Omaha. Photo: Bloomberg
Guo Guangchang plays down the comparison to Warren Buffett but his investment philosophy is inspired by the Sage of Omaha. Photo: Bloomberg

How China’s Warren Buffett does it

China’s most aggressive investor is a slow-moving juggernaut.

If the description sounds contradictory, it is — but it fits the man perfectly.

Guo Guangchang’s business decisions are informed by tai chi, the fluid, slow-motion Chinese martial art, and his investment philosophy is inspired by Warren Buffett’s “buy and hold” strategy.

In typical fashion, Guo’s company, Fosun International, this month won the longest takeover battle in French history by beating Italian investor Andrea Bonomi for control of Club Méditerranée, the vacation organiser, after a 16-month battle.

Guo, 48, went on to top an inaugural ranking of the wealthiest Chinese investors with a personal fortune estimated at US$4.5 billion, according to the Financial Times.

Club Med joins Fosun’s growing stable of overseas assets.

In recent years it has also bought St. John, a United States fashion brand, Alma Lasers, an Israeli cosmetic laser company, Saladax, a US biomedical company, Caruso, an Italian luxury menswear brand, Lloyds Chambers, a building in London and One Chase Manhattan Plaza, a 60-storey tower in Lower Manhattan that was build by David Rockefeller.

Another Fosun executive, chief executive Liang Xinjun, also made it into the top 10 of the Hurun Midas Rich List, announced on Monday by the Hurun Report, a Shanghai-based magazine run by Rupert Hoogewerf, who also compiles the China Rich List.

Guo is known as the “Warren Buffett of China” after the founder of the US investment firm Berkshire Hathaway but his decisions are as fluid and deliberate as the moves in tai chi.

“The aim of tai chi is not to strike first to gain dominance over an opponent but to wait and hit at the right moment,” he told the FT.

“That is, to be the first one to take action after feeling the change in momentum. Investing is similar to doing tai chi.”

The Midas Rich List, named after the king in Greek mythology who turned everything he touched to gold, reveals several common characteristics among the men and women who are scouring China and the world for choice investment assets.

The 87 Chinese investors included in the list – 12 of whom are women – have an average wealth of US$420 million and an average age of 49.

Some 60 per cent were educated overseas and the majority (35) keep their head office in Beijing.

Surprisingly, 20 are headquartered in the US. Venture capitalists comprised 52 per cent of the list, while 42 per cent worked in private equity and 6 per cent were angel investors.

The average investment company size is only 30 people, although they control companies with many thousands of people, according to research by the Hurun Report.

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