Monthly Archives: September 2009

BYD’s Wang Chuanfu Tops China’s Rich List On Heels Of Buffett Investment

Wang Jumps 102 Spots To Head The Hurun Report’s “Rich List”; Now Worth $5.1 Billion

BYD's Wang Chuanfu is now worth over US $5 billion, putting him at the top of China's "Rich List"

BYD's Wang Chuanfu is now worth over US $5 billion, putting him at the top of China's "Rich List"

Last week, we saw what the endorsement of a financial heavyweight like Warren Buffett can do for a little-known Chinese company, with the stock of Dayang Trands skyrocketing 71% following Buffett’s praises of the company’s bespoke suits. In the automotive sector, today China Herald (via Bloomberg) points out that Buffett’s investment in previously low-key Chinese battery and hybrid/electric car maker BYD has not only given the brand global visibility, it has made the company’s head, Wang Chuanfu, a very rich man and putting him at the top of the Hurun Report’s China Rich List beating China’s longtime #1, Zhang Yin.

[Wang’s] wealth jumped to $5.1 billion, exceeding Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd. founder Zhang Yin’s $4.9 billion, according to an e-mailed statement from the Hurun Report today.

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Spanish Ham Producers Hope To “Bring Home The Bacon” In China

Spanish Luxury Exporters Look To China As New Market For Rare And Expensive Ham, Jewelry

Spanish ham producers are hoping to get their products associated with wealth and sophistication in China

Spanish ham producers are hoping to get their products associated with wealth and sophistication in China

When people think of China — or the eating habits of urban Chinese — they probably don’t think of Spanish ham. But if Spanish ham producers have their way, China will be one of their top markets in coming years. Recently, after years of trade negotiations, Spanish ham was given the greenlight in China, after which they began a marketing blitz designed to get their products associated with wealth, luxury, and distinction among wealthy Chinese. To start off this marketing effort, a Spanish ham tasting event was held recently at Beijing’s LAN Club, one of the city’s most exclusive restuarant/nightclubs, along with a Spanish jewelry modeling show. Additionally, ham producers began a simultaneous effort to woo Japanese residents in China’s major cities, as these consumers — some of the world’s most seasoned luxury buyers — are already familiar with Spanish hams and require less dedicated marketing efforts.

As the Latin American Herald Tribune writes, as for every industry the Chinese market has great potential as a destination for ham producers, but it won’t be easy to convince Chinese buyers to spend top dollar on a culinary product with which they’re not that familiar — particularly in the age of swine flu:

The ham, produced in Extremadura by the Montesano company and distributed in China by the Olivarero Chinese Spanish Consortium, or COCE, was the star of a luxurious and glitzy evening at the distinguished club, although the jewelry of Madrid designer Paloma Sanchez, who has a store in Beijing, was also prominently featured.

“This is an event to launch the ham in Beijing, to see if there’s any demand and position (it) as an exclusive luxury product, for the upper class. Therefore, we’ve accompanied it with the jewelry show,” said Daniel Martin, COCE’s general director and the organizer of the event.

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Japan’s Mitsuoka Motor Co. To Enter Chinese Market

Japanese Luxury Automaker Plans To Open Beijing Showroom By Q1 2010

The Mitsuoka Orochi will retail for around 800,000 RMB (US $117,177) in China when it arrives next year

The Mitsuoka Orochi will retail for around 800,000 RMB (US $117,177) in China when it arrives next year

The growing Chinese luxury market is a prime target for many Asian companies that have found demand in their home countries — mainly South Korea and Japan — either growing at a snail’s pace or simply remaining stagnant. As formerly luxury-mad consumers in traditional markets like Japan cut back on their spending, high-end Japanese companies have started to look abroad for more opportunities, with China remaining the natural choice as a result of its proximity and massive population.

Recently, Japan’s Mitsuoka Motor Co., one of the country’s major luxury automakers, announced their plans to enter the Chinese market next year, starting with a showroom in Beijing that is slated to open in April. To lead their China efforts, the company will display their Orochi model at next year’s Beijing Auto Show and follow up their Beijing strategy with new dealerships in other top-tier cities:

The Orochi will spearhead Mitsuoka’s debut into China. The company plans to display the car at next year’s Beijing Auto Show, and to open dealerships in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

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11th Shanghai International Art Festival Set To Begin Next Month

Festival Will Present 55 Stage Performances Alone, 28 From Abroad, 27 From China writes today about the upcoming Shanghai International Arts Festival, which will take place for an entire month beginning on October 18:

It will feature classical ballet, dance, music, opera, drama, art exhibitions, Colombian gold, puppets, magic and a youth piano competition, as well as traditional Chinese arts and performances.

“We are trying our best to make this one of the best art festivals in the world,” says Chen Shenglai, director of the festival.

In addition to stage performances, the festival will feature art exhibitions, forums and other events, such as the pre-Hispanic gold art of Colombia at the Shanghai Museum; realist painters from the Repin Academy of Fine Arts from Russia; a retrospective of the history of China-Japan drama exchange; a South Korean modern art exhibition and Xie Zhiliu’s painting and calligraphy.

Rise Of New Chinese Collector Continues As Chinese Antiquities Remain “Recession Proof”

Astronomical Prices Paid For Historical And Quality Pieces In Recent Asian Auctions Defies Global Economic Woes As More Chinese Collectors Get In The Game

In October, Sotheby's will put on a large-scale sale of Asian art in Hong Kong. Will The New Chinese Collector continue to flex his (or her) muscles at that sale?

Since good works by historical artists like Yue Minjun are becoming more scarce, Chinese collectors are expected to continue to flex their muscles in upcoming auctions of Chinese contemporary art

Hardly any industry has escaped the global economic slowdown unscathed, and art is no exception, but recent auction results indicate that the art market — or at least pockets of the art market — are coming back to life. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, in some recent auctions some pieces have sold for exponentially more than their estimates, surprising collectors and market analysts alike. The common bond shared by most of these pieces? They were Chinese — or, if not Chinese, Asian:

Last week, the longest string of Asian art sales since the Zodiac clock dispute was held in the U.S.—and amid the most entrenched art-market recession in nearly two decades, the auction prices of many more than a handful of pieces went through the roof. At the Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler, for example, the auctioneer sang out fast-rising numbers, first in English, then Chinese, as if he were rising in the elevator of some fantastically tall Hong Kong skyscraper.

The emergence of the New Chinese Collector is a subject we’ve followed pretty much since our inception, and is a subject that is endlessly fascinating simply because it’s such a new phenomenon. While, technically, Chinese people have collected art for a few thousand years — with the exception of a few Mao-era decades where the practice was virtually nonexistent but for a few elite art lovers here and there — the New Chinese Collector has only existed for around 20 years, and arguably even less than that. This collector base was out in full force in recent auctions of Chinese and other Asian art — in New York, London and Hong Kong — and the motivation, desire and intensity of the Chinese collector is becoming somewhat legendary right before our eyes.

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Warren Buffett Gives Little-Known Chinese Clothier A Global Boost

Buffett’s Endorsement Of Trands, Suitmaker For China’s Government Elite, Gives Small Clothing Brand International Notoriety

Warren Buffett's endorsement of Chinese high-end menswear designer Trands sent its stocks soaring

Warren Buffett's endorsement of Chinese high-end menswear designer Trands sent its stocks soaring

Warren Buffett’s interest in China as an investment destination is well known, and his words of praise for (or investments in) the occasional Chinese company seems to have the effect of boosting that company’s visibility abroad virtually overnight. H is company’s $230 million investment in Chinese electric and hybrid automaker BYD has elevated what was only a few years ago a fledgling battery maker into a brand which is set to enter the US market as early as next year. So for little-known (even in China) Chinese menswear designer Trands, Buffett’s endorsement of his newest Chinese-brand-of-the-moment is definitely exciting news — especially because their stocks have risen 70% since the release of a video in which Buffett extols the brand’s qualities. As the Wall Street Journal writes today,

Move over Brioni, the truly rich and powerful are wearing Trands.

The obscure menswear label is produced by Dayang Group, a clothing company founded by Li Guilian, 63 years old, a diminutive farmer-turned-fashion mogul, in northeast China.

Ms. Li’s company got a major boost after Mr. Buffett, chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., recently appeared in a Dayang promotional video, posted on the company’s Web site. He heaped praise on Ms. Li, her company, and the nine Trands suits he proudly owns. Shares of Dayang’s Shanghai-listed subsidiary, Dalian Dayang Trands Co., have soared by more than 70% since the video was posted on Sept. 10.

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More American Vintners Looking To Expand In China Market

Growing Interest In “Pú Tao Jiǔ” Among Urban Chinese Spurring Wineries To Intensify Their China Expansion Strategies

By next year, wine imports to China are projected to reach 250,000 tons

By next year, wine imports to China are projected to reach 250,000 tons

China’s growing middle class has emerged over the last 20 years to be one of the world’s most closely-watched demographics, with marketers in virtually every industry keeping a keen eye on every purchasing trend they make. In more recent years, one of the industries that has benefitted the most from this sizeable group’s interest in all things foreign has been wine. Although the vast majority of Chinese are either unfamiliar with foreign wine or simply do not drink it very often (if at all), many vintners see great potential in the market, as target customers in more remote urban areas remain underserved by existing bars, liquor stores or supermarkets, and returnees who’ve traveled, worked or studied abroad often come back to China wine aficionados with a taste for wine.

Although per capita wine consumption in China remains miniscule by comparison, in China’s major cities it is becoming a more popular beverage, particularly in business or family settings, and in recent auctions of fine wine mainland Chinese buyers have increased exponentially, gaining notoriety among seasoned wine investors as intense bidders (and avid drinkers). Trying to maximize their appeal in China while reaching new markets, wineries outside China are working overtime to get their products to the mainland market while promoting wine drinking in China and building sustained brand equity.

As most of these vintners remain completely unknown within China regardless of their size overseas, the Chinese market represents a blank slate of sorts, allowing them to brand themselves at will without the stigmas that may exist in other markets. A good example of this is American wineries, who are often shunned for their European counterparts among American wine aficionados. As the China wine trade has opened up in the last 10 or so years, vintners from California and Washington state in particular have worked to get their bottles in the hands of the emerging Chinese wine drinker, to mixed success. California’s Lodi News-Sentinel, interviewing Van Ruiten Wineries’ Kevin Sherwood, today illustrates some of the opportunities the Chinese market presents for American and other foreign wine producers:

Around 2006 [Sherwood] developed a desire to market to China. It was around the time of the Beijing Olympics that Sherwood started to sense an opportunity. “It’s just as easy to sell to China as it is to go and sell to the restaurants in San Francisco and Walnut Creek,” he said.

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