Born in 1962, Li Li graduated in chemistry from Sichuan University and joined the Chengdu Meat Processing Factory.
Pig of a job
Sichuan has China’s biggest pig population and Li’s obsession with pigs started early. He recalls that even in his student days he spent five years in the fields. It paid off. In 1992 he joined Chongqing Tongda Biological Products as chief engineer, going on to become managing director. The company was involved in the manufacture of heparin API, an anticoagulant used in medicine. Heparin is derived from porcine small intestines.
In 1998 he relocated to Shenzhen where he founded Hepalink with Rmb2 million of seed capital from his family. The company focused on techniques to purify heparin. Biotech investor Yang Xiangyang invested a further Rmb6 million to help Hepalink grow. With other Chinese manufacturers failing to pass US FDA tests, Li’s Hepalink soon found itself the only Chinese firm allowed to sell in the US. It also gained European certification, becoming the world’s largest heparin supplier. Thanks to its main asset – access to the intestines of 180 million pigs – it will be hard to displace
Need to know
Li has just completed a successful IPO, raising Rmb5.9 billion. The company was valued at 73.3 times last year’s earnings. Subscriptions for the retail tranche topped Rmb381 billion.
On paper, Li and his wife (Li Tan) are China’s richest couple, with the IPO valuing their net worth at $6.2 billion – higher even than BYD’s Wang Chuanfu (see WiC25). Some analysts forecast the stock might double.
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