Orient Group, the parent company of leading Chinese home
improvement chain Orient Home, will enter energy and mining
industries this year, said a top company executive.
The energy and mining operations, mainly in oil resources and
non-ferrous metals, will become a key sector for Orient Group in
the near future, Zhang Hongwei, Orient Group's board chairman, told
"We might even explore energy resources abroad," Zhang said.
He made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of
the National Committee of the CPPCC, which closed yesterday.
Orient Group is also in talks with foreign investors to sell a
stake in its Orient Home retail chain, which plans to list overseas
in two to three years, he said.
Orient Group was the first Chinese private company to list its
shares on a Chinese stock exchange in 1994. It is also a major
shareholder of China Minsheng Banking Corp, the nation's first
private lender; New China Life Insurance, the country's
fourth-largest life insurer; and Jinzhou Port in Liaoning
The energy and mining operations are expected to become a major
sales contributor for Orient Group, along with its financial
operations, Zhang said.
Orient Home had been negotiating with US home improvement chain
Home Depot about the stake sale. But the negotiation collapsed due
to, according to insiders, Zhang's insistence on retaining his own
Home Depot finally bought a smaller Chinese chain Home Way at
the end of last year. The acquisition gave the world's largest home
improvement retailer an immediate presence in China, with 12 stores
in six cities.
"We welcome foreign strategic investors, no matter whether they
are also home improvement retailers or investment funds," Zhang
"I don't mind who is the largest stakeholder. The point is we
must keep the Chinese brand," Zhang added.
Orient Home was founded in 1998 and operates 25 stores around
Most apartments purchased in China are semi-finished. The
country's home improvement market is growing more than 20 percent
annually and is valued at nearly US$50 billion.
Orient's shares yesterday rose 2.44 percent to close at 13.02
(China Daily March 16, 2007)