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China’s New Role in the Global Arena
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Honoring the Chinese Business Leaders of the Year 2009

by Thomas Gilles, Partner, Baker & McKenzie

 

The global economy has been in turmoil for much longer than most of us had hoped and anticipated. However, China has not been affected to the same degree as other major economies. In contrast, China has emerged as one of the driving factors of the global recovery. The truck-queues at all major ports in China are getting longer as we speak - a clear sign that exports are regaining momentum.

China's staying power and resilience, even during these difficult times, owes a lot to the tremendous entrepreneurial spirit of the business leaders driving its economic growth and development. A jury led by Baker & McKenzie and Horasis therefore took the opportunity at this fifth Global China Business Meeting to recognize and honor three business leaders who exemplify this entrepreneurial spirit.

Mr. Levin Zhu is the CEO of China International Capital Corp., CICC. CICC is China's leading investment bank. 14 years after its establishment, CICC continues to be the major player in the industry, mainly thanks to the efforts of Mr. Zhu.

Mr. Bruno Wu is the chairman of Redrock Capital Group Holdings and was Co-founder as well as former Chairman of Sun Media Investment Holdings. Mr. Wu is one of China's most influential media-persons and is spearheading China's internet boom.

Mr. Calvin Chin is the co-founder and CEO of Qifang, China's leading online student loan service. Qifang is a web-based platform for Chinese students in need for loans to fund their education. Qifang connects these students with individuals, companies and organizations that can support their educational aspirations. Mr. Chin represents a new generation of successful entrepreneurs in China.

CICC is currently consolidating a solid base for its goal to become a China-based international investment bank. Under Levin Zhu's leadership, CICC is transforming from a mere investment bank to adding research capabilities and becoming a major player in the bond market. Nowadays, voices say that 'no star is brighter than CICC'; 'it's hard for other Chinese investment houses to follow', and that CICC is 'the first port of call for Chinese and foreign corporates seeking first-rate advice on China's growing markets.' This is simply remarkable.

Sun Media is China's leading private media group, with investment interests in 20 media-related companies and a portfolio of assets that includes many media brands. Altogether, Sun Media reaches over 200 million consumers. After stepping down as Chairman of Sun Media, Bruno Wu founded Redrock Capital Group, sourcing spin-offs of state-owned enterprises, private company advisory and investment opportunities. He is now playing a major role in China's ongoing worldwide M&A activities.

Started merely two years ago, Qifang has already brokered more than 3,000 loans on its website. Qifang is considered to be technology pioneer offering technologies and business models that can advance the global economy. Qifang is a community of trust, built around supporting education – a rare find in today's business environment.

CICC has played an active role in reconstruction projects after the devastating earthquake in Sichuan. Thanks to CICC's commitment, numerous schools and hospitals were reconstructed. CICC's staff have been involved in numerous donation activities to help disaster-struck areas in China.

Bruno Wu has been using personal connections in the media and entertainment industry, domestic as well as abroad, to promote China's charity landscape. Together with his wife, Ms. Yang Lan, he has founded the Sun Culture foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to improve education and alleviate poverty throughout China and the National Children's Foundation, a non-profit organization helping children and orphans in earthquake regions. Indeed, Yang Lan and Bruno Wu have been listed oftentimes on the top 3 list for philanthropy in China.

Besides providing educational funds to university students, Calvin Chin has been providing a helping hand to students undertaking their first career steps: Qifang is cooperating with a broad network of companies to provide traineeship- and internship-opportunities for recent university graduates. In a job market that is getting harsher and harsher every year, this provides an outstanding opportunity for China's ambitious youth. Additionally, Qifang has morphed to include a conduit for donations and, currently, Qifang is partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative to help schoolgirls in rural parts of Sichuan province.

Having a scientific background, Levin Zhu first pursued your career in the world of natural sciences, then turning to investment banking. Since then, he has masterminded many of China's most influential IPO's and M&A projects, including advising Sinopec, China Telecom, China Netcom, PICC, Air China, China Construction Bank, ICBC and nearly every other major player in the region. It is safe to say that CICC, paired with Levin Zhu's personal involvement and commitment, has been one of the driving forces behind China's economic success in the last decade.

Bruno Wu encountered his, as he once called it, 'financial Waterloo', at the hands of a well-known Australian media tycoon, losing a quite large investment. But rather than giving up, he came up with a new 'five-year plan' and instead chose to conquer China's internet business. A very wise move, as we can say now, looking back. He was once quoted that he doesn't like to pay for his hobbies but rather get returns from them. That's why he invested in a Spanish winery, producing world-class Rioja.

Calvin Chin has chosen to walk off the beaten path, venturing into an area that is still largely unregulated, plastered with uncertainties and the need for an enormous pioneering initiative to succeed. Recent reports show that this path indeed was the right one. He once said that 'an innovator is really somebody who takes a look at the world and analyzes why things the way that they are, but entrepreneurs go further than that when they say: why can't the world be the way I see it or the way that I want it to be?'

Levin Zhu, Bruno Wu and Calvin Chin excel in leadership, innovation, global reach, and economic performance and thus truly deserve to be honored as Chinese Business Leaders of the Year 2010.

 


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