Who’s Hu

Lu Xiangyang

Battery-powered investor

Born in 1962 in Anhui province, Lu’s career got off to an unentrepreneurial start. He joined the local branch of the People’s Bank of China, and spent 15 years with the central bank. The Economic Observer points out that while this allowed him to accumulate “deep personal connections and rich experience” by 1991 Lu was “deeply bored”.

Going south…

Lu left the bank and struck south to Guangdong, the most entrepreneurial and business-minded of China’s provinces at the time (and arguably still so).

For the next few years he worked for brokers and became involved in speculating in land and government bonds. But he finally struck out on his own, founding Guangzhou Youngy Management and Investment Group.

Big Break

In 1995 Lu invested Rmb5 million in BYD, becoming a seed investor in the newly formed batteries company. He knew little about the underlying business but chose to invest because of his trust in BYD boss, Wang Chuanfu. His gut feeling was definitely vindicated. His stake has a current market value of Rmb18.5 billion ($2.71 billion). Warren Buffett later joined him in investing in BYD.

His vision

More recently Lu bought 70% of the world’s second largest lithium mine, located in Sichuan. He is also negotiating to buy a cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As the owner of lithium and cobalt processing facilities in Guangzhou and Nansha, he hopes to create an ‘industrial chain’ around the battery industry, anchored to his BYD investment and the metals required by that business.

Who he admires most

Formosa Plastic’s Wang Yung-ching, the Taiwanese businessman whose ‘industrial chain’ he views as a model.

Need to know

He is BYD’s second largest shareholder with an 11.7% stake. Apart from industrial investments, he is also involved in commercial real estate, which comprises about 20% of the group’s business. He is currently looking at building an asset management franchise that specialises in non-performing loans.

Wealth

In 2009’s Hurun Rich List he ranked 13th (with Rmb27 billion in assets).

Hobbies

None, apart from work.


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