023_G17_InSight_BrandChina

Global_17

Global Insight Brand China Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Geely came to global prominence in 2010, when Li Shufu negotiated the purchase of the Volvo car brand from Ford for US$1.8 billion. This was the largest investment to date in Europe by a Chinese company. Shufu has since admitted that the challenges of taking over a foreign brand in the automotive sector – culturally, legally and commercially – were steeper than expected. But © Volvo Car Group with China being the largest purchaser of new cars since 2010, Geely’s approach demonstrates the desire for the Chinese not only to buy foreign-made goods, but also to purchase the companies that make them. Liu Chuanzhi, founder of Lenovo and Legend Holdings When Liu Chuanzhi, a computer scientist, established Legend Holdings with a small group of colleagues in Beijing in 1981, the economic reforms that would make China one of the world’s major economies were in their infancy and private business had only just been re-established. Under Chuanzhi’s leadership, Legend Holdings has become a conglomerate, embracing industrial and investment business, and has built a number of subsidiary companies including Lenovo, which grabbed world attention in 2004 when it bought the US ThinkPad brand from IBM. This made it a supplier into the all-important US market and the fi rst Chinese company to control a US technology brand. Lenovo is now the world’s largest PC manufacturer. Zhang Ruimin, CEO of the Haier Group Electronic appliance company Haier, based in the coastal city of Qingdao, has become one of the most dynamic modern hybrid companies – part state, part private – making its CEO Zhang Ruimin a key fi gure in modern Chinese business. Ruimin famously drummed the importance of quality into the company workforce by taking a hammer to substandard refrigerators and smashing them to pieces when he took over running the company in the 1990s. Since then he has been lauded as one of the most successful business fi gures of his generation. Haier has supplied much of the rest of the world with appliances, despite the low profi le of its name. Its unique strategy has been to use entry to the US market as a means of becoming even more competitive back in China. Jack Ma (Ma Yun), executive chairman of the Alibaba Group A former teacher who taught himself English while growing up in Zhejiang province, Ma is one of the best known of the new wave of Chinese entrepreneurs and someone who has a formidable reputation for ruthless focus on business outcomes. Established in 1999, the Alibaba Group now specialises in ecommerce for 65 million users and is a genuinely global enterprise, with investments in Europe (its headquarters are in the UK), the USA and Africa. Ma has become, through attendance at the World Economic Forum, one of the country’s highest profi le business voices. He is also one of its wealthiest. © Alibaba Group Ma ‘Pony’ Huateng, founder of Tencent The world wide web has swamped modern China, with an estimated 900 million people surfi ng the web on their mobiles alone. Tencent QQ is the dominant company in this booming sector, with a staggering 700 million users. Social media has revolutionised the way people communicate, despite the fact that the government has placed fi lters and restrictions on content, which means that popular foreign sites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked. Part of the reason behind this may well be to protect the rich potential of this sector in China. Kerry Brown is professor of Chinese politics and director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney Kalley Tzuhui Wu works for KyochiMyogo Consulting Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei Technologies Few companies from China are as controversial, or as successful, as Huawei. The fi rm was founded by Zhengfei, a former offi cer in the People’s Liberation Army, in the 1980s in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen. Huawei, which specialises in telecoms equipment, now does 60 per cent of its business internationally and has interests ranging from a deal with British Telecom to supply equipment in the UK, to major partnerships in Africa. Huawei has been accused of links with the military in China, however, and despite being only 20 per cent government owned, with the rest in the hands of its employees, the company has been blocked from bidding for deals in Australia and the USA on the grounds of security concerns. global f i rst quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 23 © TechCrunch


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