Wang Yang

Son-in-law of Chinese vice-premier sets up Hong Kong fund

Nicholas Zhang has become the latest family member of a top mainland political official to start an asset management business in the city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 8:39am

Vice-Premier Wang Yang's son-in-law recently launched a Hong Kong-based hedge fund focused on mainland equities, joining a growing number of young family members of top officials who have set up asset management businesses in the city.

Nicholas Zhang, who married Wang's only daughter some years ago, started Magnolia Capital Management this year with some of his former colleagues from the Hong Kong offices of Soros Fund Management and UBS, said sources familiar with the situation who declined to be named.

Nicholas is a co-founder of the new hedge fund, together with friends and ex-colleagues in the financial industry he has known for a long time

Zhang, now in his late 20s, worked briefly for Soros Fund Management in Hong Kong, the Asian arm of US billionaire George Soros' investment empire, after leaving UBS as a Hong Kong-based junior investment banker. His ambition to run his own fund took root during his time at Soros Fund, said the sources.

"Nicholas is a co-founder of the new hedge fund, together with friends and ex-colleagues in the financial industry he has known for a long time," said one of the sources.

Zhang and his team "raised tens of millions of US dollars" in just a few months for initial capital, said another source. It is not known how much money the company raised. Zhang could not be reached for comment.

The sources said Zhang, apart from being the son-in-law of a vice-premier, is himself a grandson of a late top Chinese leader who the sources declined to name.

Zhang's wife also works in Hong Kong for a major European investment bank, said the sources.

When meeting clients, Zhang rarely brings up his family background, which nevertheless remains an "open secret" among well-heeled mainland businessmen and finance professionals in Hong Kong, said one source.

In setting up a Hong Kong fund, Zhang follows in the footsteps of scions of other political families on the mainland.

Former president Jiang Zemin's grandson Jiang Zhicheng, born in Shanghai and educated at Harvard, is a co-founder of Boyu Capital, a billion-dollar private equity firm based in Hong Kong and partly funded by Li Ka-shing.

Boyu, launched in 2011, is now raising its second fund.

Former premier Wen Jiabao's son, Winston Wen, who studied at Northwestern University in the US, returned to China to co-found New Horizon Capital.

But Wen junior left the firm some years ago owing partly to growing public concern over the conflict between his private equity role and his father's public office.

Magnolia Capital Management, which has rented an office in Central, began to operate about two months ago. It focuses more on Hong Kong-listed stocks, said the sources, adding it may expand into Asia-wide equities later.