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He Xiangjian

He Xiangjian (Chinese: 何享健; pinyinHé Xiǎngjiàn, born October 5, 1942) is the co-founder of Midea, one of China’s largest appliance makers. In September 2021, his net worth was estimated to be $28.8 billion by Bloomberg Billionaires Index, positioning him at the 51st place in the index

He is founder and largest shareholder of Midea Group, China’s biggest producer of air conditioners. The Foshan, China-based company reported revenue of 346 billion yuan ($51.4 billion) in 2022. Publicly traded Midea produces a range of household products, including heaters, refrigerators and washing machines.

The majority of He’s wealth is derived from his 31% stake in Midea Group, a Fosun-China based home appliance maker that trades on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The company is the largest producer of air conditioners in China, according to its 2022 annual report. It went public in September 2013 through a merger with publicly traded subsidiary GD Midea. 

He holds the shares directly and through closely-held Midea Holding, according to the company’s 2023 first-quarter report. Midea Holding doesn’t disclose financial results and isn’t valued as a separate entity; the fortune is calculated using the value of the publicly traded stakes.

Most of his shares are held through Midea Holding, according to the quarterly report. About 5% of his stake is pledged and is removed from the calculation, according to the same filing.

He also owns an 80% stake of Midea Real Estate Holding, a property management firm publicly traded in Hong Kong since October 2018. He holds the stake through daughter-in-law Lu Deyan who controls the shares with three holding companies, according to its 2022 annual report. The stake is credited to him to reflect his status as the company’s founder.

The value of his cash investments is based on dividends, insider transactions, market performance and taxes.

Jiang Peng, spokesman of the company, declined to comment on He’s net worth.

Biography

He Xiangjian was born in Shunde, Guangdong province in 1942. He started his business with 23 villagers making glass bottles and plastic lids. At age 38, He switched to electric fans and named his company Midea. Before long, the operation started to make air conditioners, a novelty in China at the time. It first sold shares on Shenzhen’s stock exchange in 1993.

In the next decade, Midea built a more diversified product line, including refrigerators and microwave ovens, which gained popularity among Chinese households.

He resigned as chairman of GD Midea in 2009 and sold some of his stake to institutional investors in 2011, paving the way for his retirement the following year. In August 2012, Fang Hongbo, a Midea veteran, was appointed chairman of the group after He Xiangjian retired. Son He Jianfeng is a director in the company.

Midea’s appliance business has been a beneficiary of the housing reform initiated by China’s former Premier Zhu Rongji, who privatized state-owned housing, transferring home ownership from the government to families occupying the dwellings. The demand for appliances has skyrocketed since then.

Midea Group, whose businesses range from selling appliances to providing logistics services, took its unit private as part of plans to list the group, according to filings with Shenzhen stock exchange. Midea Group listed in Shenzhen on Sept. 18, 2013.

He speaks Cantonese, a dialect commonly used in Guangdong. He rarely speaks publicly or grants interviews because he doesn’t speak Mandarin well, which is the official national language.

Life

In 1968 Beijiao, Guangdong, He formed the lid production company that would be come Midea.

He stepped down from operations of Midea in 2012.

He is married with three children and lives in Foshan in Junlan International Golf Life Village, a villa neighbourhood developed by Midea Real Estate Group.

He is a noted art collector and founded the He Art Museum, a privately funded non-profit museum designed by Pritzker Prize winner Tadao Ando.

It is reported that there was an attempted kidnapping of He in June 2020. Assailants are alleged to have broken in to He’s villa at Foshan, He’s son, He Jianfeng, escaping and alerting local police, who are said to have rescued He and arrested five suspects.

Milestones

  • 1942 Born in Shunde, a county in southern China’s Guangdong province.
  • 1968 Starts making plastic products with 23 neighbors.
  • 1980 Enters electrical appliance industry by making fans.
  • 1981 Trademark Midea is registered with the Chinese government.
  • 1993 Midea Group is founded in Shunde, Guangdong.
  • 1993 GD Midea sells shares in a Shenzhen public offering.
  • 2002 He founds Midea’s refrigerator business.
  • 2011 Sells some of his personal stake to ICBC and CDH investors.
  • 2011 Acquires Carrier’s air-conditioning business in South America.
  • 2012 Retires as chairman of Midea; appoints Fang Hongbo chairman.

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