By DINNY MCMAHON in Shanghai and DAVID WESSEL in Washington
The dinner at New York’s Four Seasons Hotel, a Wall Street coming-out party last April for Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group, was much like any other high-class corporate event—until Guo Guangchang, the company’s chairman, changed from pinstripes into white silk pajamas to demonstrate his prowess at tai chi.
Guest Mark Grier, vice chairman of Prudential Financial Inc., saw the 10-minute display as a message that Mr. Guo intends “to make a contribution to China beyond the specific commercial impact of running his business.” Another person saw it as a way for Mr. Guo to demonstrate his vitality as a “young strong leader.” Enlarge Image Fosun Guo Guangchang, Fosun’s chairman, used a business dinner to show tai chi skills.
Whatever the intent, the performance was a reminder that Mr. Guo, 44 years old, is not just another apparatchik running a big state-owned Chinese enterprise. Nor is Fosun yet another lumbering Chinese behemoth. The early wave of Chinese investment abroad was led by the purchase of mining and energy companies by China’s state sector. But the face of overseas Chinese investment is set to change as private companies like Fosun exploit their lucrative home market for global scale. Private-equity firm Hony Capital Ltd. is looking to put its cash to use abroad, for example. And the parent of Hainan Airlines Co. is bidding for the airport assets of German construction company Hochtief AG. Such firms “represent a new generation of Chinese financial investors, full of drive and quick to move,” says David Chin, co-head of investment banking for UBS AG’s Asia-Pacific unit.