China’s princelings have long been an elite group in the country's political hierarchy. Now, a new generation of princelings, the offspring of former Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee members, is using its connections to make money in China's burgeoning private equity sector.
A special report published by Reuters this week delves into the multimillion-dollar investments of such princelings as Alvin Jiang, whose Chinese name is Jiang Zhicheng. The 28-year-old is the grandson of former Chinese president and Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin. The younger Jiang decided to stay out of politics and instead made a name for himself in business.
Information about the influencers behind China's private equity scene is often extremely limited, and state-run Chinese media wouldn't directly disclose the wealth of relatives of former Party officials. Despite the continued crack down on crony capitalism by China's current President Xi Jinping, reports on the family wealth of Party members, whether legal or not, are still very rare.
Here’s a look at the “private equity princelings” and their companies, which collectively have raised more than $11 billion:
At the age of 25, Alvin Jiang became a founding partner of Hong Kong-based Boyu Capital Consultancy Co. Ltd., one of the hottest private equity firms in China, which itself is one of the world’s biggest emerging markets for private equity. Boyu's notable investments include Alibaba Group Holding and China Cinda Asset Management. Jiang's companies have already raised $1.6 billion and are in the process of finalizing $1.5 billion in additional funding.
Liu Lefei, the son of current Politburo member Liu Yunshang, serves as the CEO of Beijing-based Citic Private Equity Funds Management Co. Ltd., which has raised $5.1 billion from both international and domestic investors. Liu is considered to be the top dog among private-equity princelings because his father is on the Politburo’s Standing Committee.
Winston Wen, one of the most famous names in China's private equity circles, is the son of former Premier Wen Jiabao. The younger Wen (who's Chinese name is Wen Yunsong) is the co-founder of Beijing-based New Horizon Capital, a China-focused private equity fund that has raised a total of $3.2 billion. Winston was at the center of a New York Times article in October 2012 about the hidden wealth of the relatives of the premier that provoked the Party's ire. Wen has also been known to form partnerships with state-run giants such as China Mobile Ltd. (HKG:0941).
Jiang Mianheng, the son of former President Jiang Zemin, is considered to have pioneered the private equity route for princelings by earning lots of money investing through New Margin Ventures, which has holdings in technology companies such as RedFlag Software. Mianheng's firm boasts $1.1 billion in funds raised. His most recent position was as CEO of Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd., a joint venture with DreamWorks Animation Skg (NASDAQ:DWA), which capitalizes on Hollywood's interest in China by expanding into movie production as well as the construction of a theme park in Shanghai.
He Jintao is the newest princeling. He's also the son of He Guoqiang, the former head of discipline for the Communist Party. He co-founded private equity firm Nepoch Capital, which has raised $200 million.