SHE IS GLAMOROUS, one of the best known faces on Chinese television and one of the richest women in China. Now she has become the leading shareholder in the country's most popular Internet site. Yang Lan, 33, is chairman of Sun Television Cybernetworks Holdings (Sun TV, Yang Guang Wen Hua), the Hong Kong-listed company which she founded with her husband Bruno Wu Zheng. Sun TV last week announced a share-swap deal with Sina.com that will see Ms Yang become the largest single shareholder in the Nasdaq-listed portal. Sina.com will issue 4.59 million new shares in Sina.com and pay US$8 million cash to Ms Yang in exchange for 29.3 per cent of Sun TV. Analysts did not greet the deal with enthusiasm, between two companies that are both losing money and must operate in a highly regulated market in the mainland. 'It was made under the pressure of the capital market, not from operational demand,' said Lu Benfu, an Internet specialist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 'They want it to be a Chinese version of the AOL-Time Warner merger.' But the agreement is a personal triumph for Ms Yang, giving her a third hat - television presenter, interviewer and now corporate deal-maker. It enhances her image as a model of a modern Chinese woman for millions of people - rich, elegant, fluent in English, confident with foreigners and married to a media tycoon less famous than herself. She was born in Beijing in 1968, the daughter of a professor of English at the Beijing Foreign Languages University, where she studied English. After graduating in 1990, her good looks, fluent English and engaging personality won her a plum job presenting one of the most popular entertainment programmes on China's Central Television, with an audience of tens of millions, sponsored by the CP Group of Thailand. At the end of 1993, the president of CP advised her to study abroad to sharpen her skills. So she went to Columbia University in New York and obtained a masters in International Media. While she was in the United States, she met Bruno Wu, the man who is now her husband. She had already married in China but divorced after just over a year and married Mr Wu. 'The most difficult choice is to find a husband. When you have your first romance, you do not know what kind of man and what kind of life you want. After I met Bruno, I knew he was the man I wanted.' If she is more famous than her husband, he wins in terms of education and business experience. Mr Wu, a native of Shanghai, graduated in French from a French university in 1986 and holds two PhDs, one from Fudan university and the other from an university in the US. He has also lectured at Beijing, Qinghua and Shanghai universities. From June 1996 to February 1999 he was executive president of ATV in Hong Kong. Ms Yang used her spare time in the US to make 40 programmes with Shanghai Television about American political and social life, including a piece on a drug rehabilitation centre and interviews with leaders such as Henry Kissinger. For a mainland reporter, it was pioneering work. The programmes were shown on 52 channels in China. From July 1997 to October 1999, she worked as one of the main presenters for Phoenix Television, the Hong Kong-based Mandarin-language channel that has an audience of more than 20 million in China. She did many high-profile interviews, giving her an extensive network of contacts, both Chinese and foreign, which she has been careful to maintain. In January 2000, she and her husband used 40 million yuan (about HK$37.8 million) to acquire a shell listed company in Hong Kong and renamed it Yang Guang Wen Hua (Sun TV), which became the vehicle for their media ambitions. In January, she became an adviser to the Beijing committee running the bid for the 2008 Olympics and made a speech in Moscow during its presentation to International Olympic Committee members ahead of the vote on July 13. Sun TV is one of the handful of companies to have obtained approval to broadcast its programmes in China, but only to a restricted audience, like hotels with more than three stars and compounds where foreigners live. In China, winning such approval is a highly politicised process and the fact that Sun TV has obtained it is evidence of Ms Yang's excellent connections and positive image. Sun TV already broadcasts to 500,000 households in Hong Kong and four million in Taiwan. In its report on the share-swap deal, Sina.com said that Ms Yang was the richest woman in China, with personal assets of US$64 million. When the two go to parties, the most common introduction for Mr Wu is as the husband of Yang Lan. 'When I hear this, I ache a little, but the feeling passes after two seconds,' he said. 'I am proud of my wife.' To make up for this, Ms Yang treats Mr Wu as the chief executive at home. 'I do more of the chores, being a parent and doing household repairs. These are things that fall within my scope of responsibility.'