It’s not often $30 billion walks into the state, but that’s exactly what will happen this month when a delegation of rich Chinese investors hits Melbourne.
According to state government insiders, the list of delegates includes 21 billionaires and they will all be hunting investment opportunities in Victoria.
The group is here for the Fortune Forum Australian Summit, to be held at the Park Hyatt from November 23, and they will be hosted by lord mayor Robert Doyle and former premier Ted Baillieu. An invitation has been sitting on the desk of Daniel Andrews for a few weeks now, but the Premier is yet to respond. A few of his colleagues in State Parliament are hoping he says “yes”, if only to get some private time with the head of the delegation, Cao Dewang.
Mr Cao is founder and chairman Fuyao Group, the world’s largest supplier of glass to the automotive industry. Until recently, Mr Cao was listed by Forbes as one of the 20 richest men in China, with a net worth of $US2.5 billion ($3.5 billion), but the renowned philanthropist has given away more than half of his wealth in recent years. A Buddhist, Mr Cao set up a charity trust in 2009 and has transferred almost 60 per cent of his entire wealth since then.
In 2011, he launched the Heren Foundation, which now owns 15 per cent of the list shares of Fuyao. As Mr Cao’s wealth grows, so does the size of his charitable donations. “The more I donate, the more I realise how little use I have for money,” he said. Even after the donations, Mr Cao is still worth an estimated $US1.2 billion, but it’s not the philanthropic side of Mr Cao that has intrigued some in government.
During a similar business trip to Ohio last year, Mr Cao noted a local General Motors assembly plant was soon to close. So Mr Cao bought the GM factory, and has since announced he will employ 800 full-time staff at the facility.
Fuyao dominates the Chinese glass market, but is looking to expand overseas. The company just raised $US700 million on the Hong Kong stock exchange to fund such purchases. “And you may have noticed, we do have a few car plants around the place that will very soon be sitting idle,” one MP said.