Liu Yonghao: a billionaire from the countryside

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, March 10, 2010
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Liu Yonghao

Liu Yonghao 

Liu Yonghao and his three brothers reached top spot on the Forbes list in 2001 with personal fortunes totaling 8 billion yuan (US$1.17 billion). The Liu brothers' founded their company in 1982 at the outset of China's economic reforms. They quit their government jobs and sold their watches and bicycles to raise 1,000 yuan (US$146.7) to set up in business in the countryside of Sichuan Province. They started by breeding quails and within six years had amassed 10 million yuan (US$1.46 million) and branched out into the animal feed business. They established Hope Group, the largest animal feed group in China, in 1992.


Liu Yonghao looks nothing like a billionaire. He prefers a T-shirt and slacks to a suit. He drove a Santana for years until his employees insisted he buy a Mercedes. He always travels economy class and buys discounted tickets for all his business trips. He hasn't changed his hairstyle for years and always goes to the same barber shop. He is careful about the words he uses and always has a smile on his face. His employees do not feel intimidated when he speaks to them.

Liu joined the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in 1993 as a representative of private enterprise. He was appointed vice president of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce the same year. "It gave me lot of opportunities to communicate with outstanding entrepreneurs and professionals. It was an eye-opening experience," Liu said in an interview. "I'm not the vice president anymore because you can only serve two consecutive terms of office according to the rules. But I'm still in charge of the economics committee of the CPPCC and it gives me the chance to meet and learn from economists. I am trying to learn more about China's macro-economy to develop a more sophisticated way of thinking."

Liu Yonghao's New Hope Group employs 15,000 workers and owns 90 companies. Its businesses include animal feed, dairy produce, meat processing, real estate, finance, investment, chemical engineering, commerce and logistics. The group has three plants in Southeast Asia. It is the biggest shareholder of China Minsheng Banking Corp. Ltd. and a sponsor shareholder of Minsheng Life Insurance Co., Ltd.

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