Lessons For A Healthy Business
The PEAK Hong Kong|September 2017

Fosun Chairman Guo Guangchang would like you to call him a fellow student, even as he aims to take over the China market for middle class living.

Peggy Sito and Eugene Tang
When Guo Guangchang bought his first American asset, 28 Liberty Building (formerly known as One Chase Manhattan Plaza) in the financial district of New York in 2013, he envisaged American camaraderie and back-slapping good nature throughout his US business. 

He wanted his employees to call him George, recalling an episode in the post-merger integration of the Travelers Group with Citibank in 1998, when the Co-Chairmen Sandy Weill and Co-Chief Executive John Reed stood by the corporate headquarters every morning, shaking every employee’s hand as they walked in. It was an exercise that went on for a year.

“Call me Sandy” or “call me John”, they had supposedly urged. Guo took this anecdote as a lesson in how to deal with Americans.

However, the American employees at the New York office called him Guo Zong (Director Guo), language copied from Chinese officialdom that neither impressed the Shanghai-born businessman, nor was in line with his vision of entrepreneurship. “I started sending out office memos addressing everybody as tongxue (fellow classmates), and signing off myself as Guo tongxue,” he says. “That finally did the trick.”

Aside from studying business, Guo is an ardent student and practitioner of tai chi. He is repeatedly photographed in traditional tai chi garb. It’s more than mere appearances. Fosun’s Hong Kong office, located in the ICBC Tower on Garden Road, occupies some of the world’s most expensive commercial real estate. Even so, at least 800 square feet of space has been given over to a tai chi studio, adding about HK$200,000 to the company’s monthly rent. Fosun has one of these in every single one of its offices worldwide, where staff are encouraged to turn up early in the mornings for tai chi lessons.

On the wall are photos of Guo with some famous faces, including former US President Bill Clinton.

“Life in general is an endless process of learning,” Guo says. “We draw our inspiration from a number of successful businesses around the world: Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway for its long-term value investing, Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison Whampoa for managing a successful empire in Asia, and from GE for its diversity of businesses.”

Guo, who turns 51 next February, appears to have taken all those business lessons to heart. The Fosun Group has grown over a quarter of a century from a real estate developer and drug maker into one of the country’s largest private conglomerates, in the process making Guo – one of five founding partners – one of China’s wealthiest businessmen. He is currently ranked number 22 on Forbes’ coveted (and dreaded) China Rich List.

From Buffet and Berkshire, Guo saw how cash-rich insurers could fund long-term equity investments. Fosun owns two insurance companies, including the US$78 million (HK$610 million) venture with Prudential Financial called Pramerica Fosun Life Insurance, Portugal’s largest insurer Fidelidade Cia de Seguros SA, acquired in 2014 for €1.04 billion (HK$9.6 billion), and a reinsurer called Peak Reinsurance.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM THE PEAK HONG KONGView All

Supercar Condos

This new property project is set to be the perfect spot for elite supercar owners to store and show off their rides. 

1 min read
The PEAK Hong Kong
October 2017

New Gear

Lamborghini unveils an upgraded supercar that boasts breathtaking performance with open-air driving thrills.

1 min read
The PEAK Hong Kong
October 2017

Aquatic Timekeeper

As a nod to the futuristic glass bathysphere from The Abyss, this timepiece raises the bar for horological aesthetics by marrying abstract visual concepts with mechanical wonders.

1 min read
The PEAK Hong Kong
October 2017

A New Way To Do Business

Attracting and retaining a creative workforce is a perpetual challenge. The answer may lie in B Corps, a certification process that’s focused on the societal impact a company has.

4 mins read
The PEAK Hong Kong
October 2017

Circular Opportunities

Why Hong Kong companies should start turning their waste into a supply source.

4 mins read
The PEAK Hong Kong
October 2017

The Game Changer

After years spent residing in Spain, Paris and the US, Northacre CEO Niccolò Barattieri di San Pietro now has his eyes set on London. The forward-thinking property giant is aiming to restore the former glory back into historical developments in the British capital.

3 mins read
The PEAK Hong Kong
October 2017

The Quiet Giant

Dr Jonathan Choi wears a lot of hats and sobriquets as he heads up low profile conglomerate Sunwah Group. But with a rising tide of interest in ASEAN and a pending free trade deal, the quiet days may get a little noiser.

8 mins read
The PEAK Hong Kong
October 2017

The Boutique Experience in Mexico City

When it comes to Latin America, Mexico is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner and the biggest buyer of Hong Kong exports.

4 mins read
The PEAK Hong Kong
December 2016

Discovering the Dark Side

Following a growth in the number of protected 'dark sky places' and stargazing travel destinations, all of which offer visitors increasingly luxurious ways to gaze in awe at the night sky, there has never been a more exciting time for astrotourism.

5 mins read
The PEAK Hong Kong
December 2016

The Sparkle Makeover

From cars to yachts, here's what one pioneering outfitter is doing to add bling to big ticket items.

1 min read
The PEAK Hong Kong
December 2017
RELATED STORIES

TWITTER REMOVES CHINA-LINKED ACCOUNTS SPREADING FALSE NEWS

Twitter has removed a vast network of accounts that it says is linked to the Chinese government and was pushing false information favorable to the country’s communist rulers. Beijing denied involvement and said the company should instead take down accounts smearing China.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #451

Guo Shuqing Has The Toughest Job In Global Finance: Taming China's Gargantuan Banking System

WALKING A $40 TRILLION TIGHTROPE

9 mins read
Bloomberg Markets
December 2019 - January 2020

How A Foreign Investor Rattled A Tiny African Economy

Guohui Shi secured a monopoly on Lesotho’s primary export, then stopped paying producers

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
September 23, 2019

Living It Up

GuocoLand’s Guoco Midtown shows home buyers and investors that it is possible to find an apartment that ticks all the right boxes, reports Mavis Teo.

4 mins read
Prestige Singapore
September 2021

Midtown Modern

Guocoland, Singapore

2 mins read
PALACE Magazine
Issue 27

The Green Heart Of Our City

From next year, GuocoLand will have the largest privately developed garden collection in the central business district.

3 mins read
Robb Report Singapore
April 2021

Service Before Celebration

A doctor’s contribution to normalization of life

3 mins read
China Africa (English)
March 2021

China sending high-level team to Nepal to prevent ruling party split

In a sign of growing unease in Beijing over the political crisis in Nepal, China is sending a high-level delegation of the Chinese Communist Party to Kathmandu on Sunday to persuade the two warring factions of the Nepal Communist Party to stay together.

1 min read
The Times of India Delhi
December 27, 2020

Power Combination

We discover if the way forward in the property sector is to combine the merits of retail, residential and office elements into mixed-use developments

6 mins read
PALACE Magazine
Issue 26

Employees Sharing: A Bonus for All

China’s economy, despite the impact of the epidemic, is holding up to behold rays of hope.

5 mins read
China Today (English)
May 2020