Lu Zhiqiang (卢志强)chairs China Oceanwide Group of Beijing, a conglomerate active in real estate, finance and technology. In downtown Los Angeles it is building Oceanwide Plaza, a $1 billion residential and retail complex.
In July 2016 the company won government approval for its Shenzhen-listed Oceanwide Holdings to raise $2.2 billion to develop projects in the city of Wuhan and for an investment in Asia-Pacific Property & Casualty Insurance. In July Oceanwide bought more than $1.1 billion of shares in Shanghai-listed China Minsheng Banking, bringing its stake to nearly 5%. Oceanwide announed in late October 2016 that it plans to buy U.S. insurer Genworth Financial for $2.7 billion.
Born in Shandong province in 1951, Lu graduated from Fudan University. His first job was as a technician with the Shandong Weifang Diesel Engine Factory.
Lu left the state sector to become an entrepreneur and set up China Oceanwide. Initially it focused on education and training, but when the government initiated housing reform in 1988, Lu moved into real estate. This was to be his core business over the next decade, with Oceanwide becoming a dominant developer in China’s key cities – for example, in Beijing it owns very visible real estate such as Glory China Centre, on an avenue leading into Tiananmen Square.
Lu moved into financial services as one of the major shareholders in Minsheng Bank. He likewise took stakes in insurers and brokers. Known as the ‘capital hunter’ his dealmaking skills saw Oceanwide’s assets grow to Rmb16 billion.
A legend is born…
A friend of Liu Chuanzhi – known as the ‘godfather of entrepreneurs’ – Lu stepped in last year to buy the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) 29% stake in Legend – the parent of computer maker Lenovo. Liu discovered that Oceanwide had increased its cash pile when it reduced its shareholdings in Minsheng Bank and Haitong Securities. In turn, when Lu became aware that CASS intended to reduce its shareholding in Legend, the Oceanwide boss made what he terms “a lightning decision” to invest. He paid CASS Rmb2.75 billion ($401 million) for a 29% stake in Legend.
Need to know
Legend’s plan is to invest $1.5 billion over the next five years in local growth businesses (in areas like clean energy and consumer goods) and then list itself (possibly in Hong Kong).
After five years and a listing, what will the investment be worth? Lu told Caijing that he calculates the stake will be worth Rmb20 billion.
In his own words
“I’m not a very good businessman. I only look at the big picture. If you’re very calculating and you come to me, you’ll certainly win and I’ll lose.”