Billionaire Guo Guangchang quits executive posts at subsidiaries of Chinese conglomerate Fosun
Guo will retain his post as chairman of the parent company, but wants to ‘make room’ elsewhere for a younger generation
Guo Guangchang, the billionaire known as “China’s Warren Buffett” who is also chairman of the Hong Kong listed conglomerate Fosun International, is to quit all his executive posts at group companies to “make room for young people”, he told a conference call with investors on Monday.
Chinese media had reported on Friday that Guo, 50, had stepped down from the position of chairman at Shanghai Fosun High Technology – the main company in the Fosun group, triggering questions from investors.
“I would thank you for your concern about Fosun and me … but [the resignation] was consistent with our intention to make room for young people. In future, I will no longer take any director positions in subsidiary companies but will focus on the strategy for Fosun,” Guo said on the call.
He said he would retain his chairman’s post at Fosun International, the parent of the conglomerate, whose businesses range from health care, entertainment and energy to finance, consumer products and real estate.
Guo was “out of contact” in late December 2015 for a few days, causing the suspension of share trading in the listed companies in the group, including Fosun International and Fosun Pharmaceutical.
The disappearance sparked speculation he had been caught up in the Chinese government’s anti-corruption campaign. No such link was officially announced and, on his return to the public eye, Guo simply said that he had been “assisting investigations”, without elaborating.
Based on publicly available information, Guo holds more than 20 board member or chairman positions in companies in the Fosun business empire or in those with significant investment from Fosun.
The companies include Club Med, a former French-owned resort group that Fosun took over in 2015, Peak Reinsurance, a Hong Kong based insurer, and Portuguese insurer Fidelidade, which was acquired by Fosun in 2014.
“We did not disclose my resignation from Fosun High Technology because it was not legally required,” Guo said on the call.
“But it taught us a lesson that some people tend to speculate over messages like that,” he said.
Separately, he also told investors on the call that a decision earlier this month to sell the Lloyds Chambers building in London, which a consortium including Fosun had acquired in 2013, was simply a business decision, and was not linked to the Chinese government’s recent crackdown on overseas property investment.
In June, China’s banking regulator asked banks to review their lending exposure to companies active in overseas investment, including Fosun. After the review some of the companies pulled out of overseas investments.
The London commercial building had been bought by the consortium for £64.5 million (US$84.4 million) in 2013, and was sold for £100 million.
Fosun International shares fell 3.2 per cent on Monday to close at HK$17.8 in Hong Kong.