Legend mulls big move into financial services

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 9:17am

Legend Holdings, the parent of the world's No3 computer maker Lenovo Group, will be investing in the mainland's rapidly growing financial services sector in a big way in the next six years.

After spending US$300 million on 60 projects spanning property and privately owned manufacturers, Legend has decided to tap the financial sector, said Liu Chuangzhi, Legend's chief executive.

Without revealing the type of financial services the group is looking at until an investment plan is finalised in June, Mr Liu said the move would offer Legend an alternative channel for fresh funds.

'Our strategy for the next six years will concentrate on investment, especially in financial services,' Mr Liu said yesterday on the sidelines of the National People's Congress. 'But the potential investment in financial services is subject to government policies.'

Robust inflows of foreign capital betting on the yuan's appreciation and continuing sector reform has helped the state's banking, insurance, securities and capital market thrive.

Mr Liu said buyout fund Hony Capital, a Legend investment unit, felt the impact of the yuan's strength and planned to raise yuan-dominated funds to spread currency risks.

'The faster the yuan appreciates, the bigger the difference between the actual acquisition price and the contractual price,' he said of US dollar-denominated deals.

Mr Liu said the returns of Legend's three investment units - Hony, property-focused Raycom Real Estate Development and technology-oriented Legend Capital - were above average.

He added that Legend had no immediate need to raise funds due to its 'strong cash flow'.

Hony, however, is planning a cash call of about US$300 million after spending about US$580 million on acquisitions in the past two years, a Legend spokesman said.

Mr Liu said the chance of sourcing funds by floating Hony's investment portfolio in Shanghai or Hong Kong this year was slim, given the weakened and volatile equity market. Funding for future acquisitions will depend largely on shareholders' contributions and borrowings, he said.

Asked if a Hony-led consortium's decision to take over Lenovo's underperforming handset unit would lead to the spin-off of the unit, Mr Liu said the deal would allow Lenovo to focus on personal computer operations.

Lenovo Mobile Communications Technology was sold for US$100 million.