Bear Stearns Companies Inc, a leading Wall Street investment bank, joined forces with Huang Guangyu, the richest man on the mainland, to set up a US$500 million buyout fund targeted at booming Chinese retailers, the two sides said yesterday.
Bear Stearns' private equity arm, Bear Stearns Merchant Banking (BSMB), and Huang's Eagle Investment Group will each pledge US$250 million to buy Chinese retailers with great growth potential as the country boosts its domestic consumption.
The "Bear-Eagle" fund will focus on established retail companies in China with existing brands and cash flow, said Gwyneth M Ketterer, chief operating officer of BSMB.
BSMB is widely known for its experience in investing in successful retail and consumer brands throughout the United States, including Aeropostale Inc, Balducci's, New York & Company Inc, Seven for All Mankind, Stuart Weitzman and Vitamin Shoppe Industries Inc.
"Huang Guangyu's proven successful experience in the retail sector and Bear Stearns' solid investment experience will make us a powerful combination," Ketterer said.
Huang, the founder of Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings Ltd, the largest electronics retailer in China, topped Forbes magazine's China Rich List in 2006. The company, with 850 outlets in 200 cities, is the largest retailer listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
"The fund can help us complement each other's competitive advantages," Huang said, adding the investment will not include the home appliance sector, in which Gome holds a leading position.
(China Daily March 21, 2007)