The Kiwi kings of rubbish

Beijing Capital boss thrilled by waste management deal


Liu: poet laureate of trash?

John Keats lauded nightingales, Alexander Pope praised solitude, and Robert Burns immortalised haggis. And now Liu Xiaoguang has penned an ode of his own – to rubbish dumps.

Liu is head of Beijing Capital Group, a conglomerate reporting to the Beijing branch of Sasac, the controller of many large state firms. Earlier this year it put in an $800 million bid for Transpacific New Zealand, a waste management firm owned by Australia’s Transpacific Industries Group. The deal went through late last month (Beijing Capital saw off competition from three other bidders, including private equity giant Carlyle Group). That was just as well, as it was love at first sight as far as Liu was concerned. A visit to one of its waste disposal areas even inspired him to verse: “Who said landfill? A country park is here/ No foul smell, the air so sweetly fresh/ 2.4 million tonnes of rubbish beneath/ Air freshener sprayed, plastic membranes so impermeable/ It is a world-class landfill/ It is a holy temple of trash.”

With assets valued at $21 billion, Beijing Capital has three core businesses: financial services and investment; urban infrastructure development; and real estate. As one of the largest water service companies in China, it has already established wholly-owned or joint-venture water plants in more than 20 cities, but this latest move into solid waste management is designed to broaden its expertise. The waste firm – the largest in New Zealand – offers collection and disposal services to the general public, as well as a series of sorting, treatment and sanitation facilities.

Expect the initial focus to be on improving waste disposal in Beijing, where more than 18,000 tonnes of rubbish is generated on a daily basis, says Sina Finance. The purchase also seems well-timed, particularly as the central government is going to spend at least $16 billion over the next three years simply dealing with pollution in the Chinese capital. There are goals to treat 90% of all urban waste by the end of next year too, according to housing ministry data.

Southern Weekend says that Liu has been on the lookout for acquisitions for a while but has been willing to wait for targets of sufficient scale and profitability. He now plans to tap into Transpacific’s expertise in waste collection and disposal because China’s solid waste industry is at least five years behind its wastewater treatment sector.

“This investment carries significant mutual technical and commercial benefits”, Wang Hao, Liu’s colleague, confirmed to reporters when the deal was first announced. “Beijing Capital Group believes a substantial scope exists for cross-border cooperation given the technical knowledge of the Transpacific New Zealand management in areas such as landfill and local area environment management and the extensive scale of waste-sector investment opportunities in China and New Zealand.”

Away from waste management, Liu has been writing poems for years, even publishing an anthology featuring 450 of his favourite poems.

In the spirit of holiday reading, here’s another of his efforts, titled: ‘A Banker’.

“He has the freshest and reddest blood/ He looks so young and energetic/ Building wisdom from information and networks, obsessed with chasing money and opportunity/ Assets, companies and capital are his breakfast/ Ideas, management, and exit his never-ending loop, his excellence sublime/ He brings Madonna’s eyes, Mona Lisa’s chest and Princess Diana’s body as the sexiest and prettiest woman/And he trades her for a golden rice bowl at her most beautiful moment.”

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