Born in 1962 in Zhejiang province, Shen Guojun got a master’s degree from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in 1986. He joined China Construction Bank. He was soon transferred into a subsidiary that specialised in real estate.
At a head office conference, Shen gave a speech that impressed CCB’s then boss Wang Qishan (now vice-premier of China). He was sent to a new industrial investment and property subsidiary the bank had formed in Hainan. There, he got caught up in the local real estate bubble and left the bank to start his own business. By 1997 he’d established China Yintai Holdings, based in Zhejiang. He initially planned to speculate in real estate, but when a deal went wrong he was left with a commercial property in Hangzhou. In November 1998 he put a department store in it.
His Intime Department Store targeted young consumers and soon flourished. By 2005 he had four of them, with sales exceeding Rmb3 billion. In the meantime he received investment from Warburg Pincus and began making successful investments himself, in other real estate and energy firms. He listed Intime in Hong Kong in 2007. In late 2008 he opened the capital city’s tallest building, Beijing Yintai Centre. He currently owns or is building 30 shopping malls around the country, and plans to launch an online fashion store targeted at young consumers in September.
In 2009 Shen’s department stores had sales of Rmb6.5 billion but their rapid growth saw the Yintai group need to raise cash. It sold stakes in China Dongxiang and Baida to raise cash proceeds of Rmb578 million, as well as disposing of its 50% stake in joint venture Beijing Intime Lotte Department Store and Hangzhou Hubin International Commercial Development. In June 2009, it also cancelled its previous acquisition, through government auction, of a piece of land in Hangzhou and was refunded Rmb212.3 million.
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