Fo­sun fos­ters global am­bi­tions, but has plan to re­duce debt

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By REUTERS in Lisbon

Fo­sun Group, China’s largest pri­vate con­glom­er­ate, is aim­ing to be­come a world leader in in­sur­ance, tourism and health­care but also has a “clear­plan” tore­du­ceits debts, chair­manandco-founderGuo Guangchang said.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Reuters on Tues­day, Guo said his group — which up to now has largely tar­geted com­pa­nies in de­vel­oped mar­kets — was also turn­ing its fo­cus to in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in emerg­ing mar­kets.

Guo also said things were “back to nor­mal” fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent in De­cem­ber when he was briefly re­ported miss­ing, with Fo­sun’s pres­i­dent say­ing Guo was help­ing po­lice with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Fo­sun has spent about $30 bil­lion in the past two decades out­side China, mainly ac­quir­ing in­sur­ance and real es­tate as­sets in Europe and the United States, as well as mak­ing in­vest­ments in the likes of tourism group Club Med and Canada’s Cirque du Soleil.

De­spite build­ing up hefty debts in the process, Guo made clear his con­tin­u­ing in­ter­est in con­sumer-led sec­tors, say­ing they of­fered strong value.

“We see more and more op­por­tu­ni­ties glob­ally so we are adapt­ing our strat­egy,” Guo, who has been ranked as China’s 17th rich­est man, said dur­ing a visit to Por­tu­gal where Fo­sun bought mar­ketlead­ing in­surer Fidel­i­dade in 2014.

“Our tar­get for the next five to 10 years is to be­come the world’s lead­ing ser­vice provider for in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies in terms of health, wealth and hap­pi­ness,” he said.

“In the sec­tors where we have in­vest­ed­wewill be­come a very im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional in­sur­ance group and a very im­por­tant tourism group, and we will be­come a worldlead­ing health­care provider,” he added.

Last month, Moody’s credit rat­ing agency re­stored its out­look on Hong Kong-listed Fo­sun In­ter­na­tional’s Ba3 credit rat­ing to sta­ble from neg­a­tive, re­flect­ing its ex­pec­ta­tion that the group “will pru­dently man­age its ex­pan­sion and strengthen its fi­nan­cial dis­ci­pline”.

Guo said the com­pany was work­ing hard to re­duce debts and ob­tain an in­vest­ment grade rat­ing— three notches above Ba3—“as soon as pos­si­ble”, adding: “We are work­ing on that and have a very clear plan to do that.”

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