Zhang Shiping, who oversaw the rise of China Hongqiao Group into the world’s biggest aluminum producer, died on Thursday at the age of 73, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the firm.
Zhang, who in 1994 took over the predecessor company to Hongqiao, a textiles firm in eastern China’s Shandong province, branched out into aluminum in 2002.
As chairman of Hongqiao, he turned the firm into an aluminum giant that produced more metal than state-run rival Aluminum Corp of China, or Chalco. In 2015, Hongqiao overtook Russia’s United Company Rusal as the world’s top aluminum producer.
Hongqiao currently has just under 6.5 million tons of smelting capacity. The group found further expansion in China restricted in recent years due to supply-side reform and an environmental protection campaign, Reuters noted.
Zhang made an “invaluable contribution to the success of the group during his tenure”, Hongqiao said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange late on Thursday. It did not give a cause of death.
Based in the city of Binzhou, Hongqiao was listed in Hong Kong in 2011, although Zhang still controlled around 70 percent of its shares, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.
Forbes estimates Zhang’s net worth at US$4.7 billion, putting him in 484th place in its Billionaires 2019 list.
“(Hongqiao) will convene a board meeting to elect the chairman of the board as soon as possible,” the company said.
Zhang’s son, Zhang Bo, serves as Hongqiao Group’s chief executive officer.
– Contact us at [email protected]