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中国女首富:我的第一桶金  

2007-03-15 09:46:23|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Zhang Yin may be China’s richest person, but it was herformative experiences outside the country – in Hong Kong and theUS – that propelled her up the ranks of its rich lists.

In October Ms Zhang, who heads one of the world’s largest paperpackaging and recycling companies, was identified by the HurunReport as China’s richest person, with a fortune estimated at$3.4bn (2.7bn, 1.8bn). According to a rival list released earlierthis month by Forbes magazine, which unlike Hurun divided herfamily’s fortune among its various members, she is China’s fifthrichest person worth $1.5bn.

The bulk of the Zhang family’s wealth is derived from itsmembers’ controlling stake in Nine Dragons, which listed on theHong Kong Stock Exchange in March. Since then, the shares have morethan tripled, illustrating how the territory’s capital market hasallowed China’s nouveaux riches to dramatically increase theirfortunes.

In her first briefing with overseas reporters since the two richlists propelled her to fame, Ms Zhang, 49, reflected on her earlyexperiences in Hong Kong in the mid-1980s

Born into a military family in Shaoguan, a poor city inGuangdongprovince, Ms Zhang came to the then colony in 1985 as an accountantwith a Sino-foreign trading joint venture. A year later the jointventure was closed.

“I had three choices: go back to [Guangdong], take a job thatoffered me $64,100 a year, or start a business,” Ms Zhang said.“I chose to start a business. That’s how I made my first bucketof gold.”

With only Rmb30,000 in start-up capital, she began bringinggoods from northern China to the south, before branching out intopaper recycling and packaging. It was a long slog, as Ms Zhangslowly built up capital and relationships with banks in Hong Kong,including Bank of America, Bank of China and Citic Ka Wah.

In 1994, Ms Zhang decamped to the US, where she built AmericaChung Nam, one of the country’s largest exporters of waste paperto China and now Nine Dragon’s biggest supplier of its mostimportant raw material. Unlike Hurun’s estimate of Ms Zhang’swealth, Forbes’ took into account her non-listed assets includingAmerica Chung Nam.

“They were tough, really tough cookies over in the US and inChina,” says one Guangdong-based trader who has sold waste paperto the Zhangs, but asked not to be identified. According to thetrader, one of the secrets of Ms Zhang’s success was the sheerscale of America Chung Nam’s activities, which gave it leveragewhen negotiating shipping rates.

As Ms Zhang built a business, she also built a family. Herhusband, Liu Ming-chung, was born in Taiwan and studied dentistryin Brazil. Today he is Nine Dragon’s deputy chairman, chiefexecutive and also, according to his wife, the company’s chieflinguist. “He speaks Portuguese, [three Chinese dialects] andEnglish,” she bragged in Mandarin, adding that her own Cantonese,the prevalent dialect in Hong Kong, and English were limited

 

Ms Zhang’s younger brother and 25-year-old son are also companydirectors, while her second son is still in high school. Theirmother said neither would rise high in the business if he did notprove himself first.

She also professed not to be concerned about her prominence onthe country’s rich lists – or the habit some people on them haveof falling foul of tax and other authorities in China. “I am notafraid. I have earned every cent that I have. As a listed company,we are very transparent.”

  
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