China Resources (Holdings)

How 'general manager killer' made it to the top of China Resources

China Resources chairman was ruthless with underlings and played rough with triads

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 10:02am

China Resources (Holdings) chairman Song Lin, 50, joined the conglomerate, the State Council's overseas investment arm, as a management trainee in Hong Kong in 1985 and has spent his entire career there.

Born in Rushan, Shandong province, he studied at the High School Attached to Shandong Normal University and graduated from Tongji University in Shanghai with a degree in solid mechanics.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post in 2005 he recalled driving around the New Territories to scout out locations for new petrol stations early in his career.

In addition to providing him with a crash course in Cantonese, Hong Kong village politics and the then colony's archaic indigenous land policies, Song's assignment also introduced him to the rougher elements of his new home.

"I drove around Yuen Long and Sheung Shui to bargain with indigenous residents and deal with the triads," he recalled. "The triads were so ferocious that one time we ended up throwing bottles at each other."

I drove around Yuen Long and Sheung Shui to bargain with indigenous residents and deal with the triads. The triads were so ferocious that one time we ended up throwing bottles at each other
China Resources (Holdings) chairman Song Lin

China Resources has interests in consumer goods, power, property, cement, gas, pharmaceuticals and finance. Song worked his way up through its asset management, petrochemical, power and semiconductor divisions before becoming general manager of the group in 2004.

He became the group's youngest chairman in 2008.

In the 2005 interview, Song revelled in his self-professed nickname - "the general manager killer" - which he said he had earned by sacking 10 division managers in seven years.

"China Resources' business is labour-intensive, therefore human resources management is crucial to the company's future development," Song said. "We want a management team with younger managers, even more professional training and an even higher level of integrity.

"Heads have to roll for poor business decisions … It puts a lot of pressure on me and division heads, but whenever it happens, performance sees immediate improvement."

Under Song's leadership, China Resources entered Fortune magazine's list of the top 500 global companies by revenue. This year it ranked 187th in the magazine's Global 500 list.

Song was ranked 20th in Fortune China's list of the most influential Chinese business leaders last year and was voted Reformer of the Year by a National Development and Reform Commission-organised forum.

Hong Kong-registered Chinese Resources (Holdings) reported revenue of HK$404.6 billion, profit of HK$41.2 billion and assets worth HK$939.3 billion last year. The group has five companies listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange: China Resources Enterprise, China Resources Power, China Resources Land, China Resources Cement and China Resources Gas.

Song is also chairman of both the Hong Kong Chinese Enterprises Association and the Hong Kong Ethics Development Centre and a non-executive director of Geely and the Bank of East Asia. A member of the Communist Party, he is married with a daughter. He was made a Justice of the Peace by the Hong Kong government this month.