Class of His Own

Forbes - - New Billionaire On The Block Scorecard Scorecard -

Zhang Bangxin cap­i­tal­ized on a lead­ing pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of chi­nese par­ents—giv­ing their one child the finest ed­u­ca­tion pos­si­ble— with a tu­tor­ing em­pire. THEY START Them Young at Zhang Bangxin’s schools. Tod­dlers, some no older than 2, squirm their way through 90- to 120-minute classes (typ­i­cal les­son: be­gin­ner math) that cost their par­ents about $20 an hour (the av­er­age Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ing worker, by com­par­i­son, earns around $2 hourly). Some of these stu­dents will stick with Zhang’s tu­tors through high school, bon­ing up on his­tory, math, Chi­nese, English and more.

Zhang’s TAL Ed­u­ca­tion Group is one of the big­gest play­ers in Chi­nese pri­vate ed­u­ca­tion. Rev­enues from his 301 schools in main­land China have climbed nearly 300% in four years to $434 mil­lion. The com­pany’s New York-listed stock is up 200% since its Oc­to­ber 2010 IPO, lift­ing the press-shy Zhang, TAL’S 36-year-old chief ex­ec­u­tive, into the bil­lion­aire ranks with a $1.5 bil­lion for­tune.

He co­founded TAL in 2003 af­ter his ex­pe­ri­ence as a tu­tor in grad­u­ate school (one of his re­ported seven part-time jobs) showed him the field’s po­ten­tial. TAL con­tin­ues to add phys­i­cal lo­ca­tions—it plans to open two to four new schools each year—but it’s in­creas­ingly fo­cused on its on­line of­fer­ings. (“We want to be right at the cusp of where ed­u­ca­tion meets tech­nol­ogy,” Zhang told in­vestors in July.) The com­pany re­cently launched a mo­bile app, which en­ables stu­dents to com­mu­ni­cate with tu­tors at any time of day. Blue di­a­monds are ex­traor­di­nar­ily rare, but the records they set at auction are not. In Novem­ber 2015 the Blue Moon di­a­mond—a 12-carat In­ter­nally Flaw­less Fancy Vivid Blue gem—shat­tered a sales record when it was ham­mered down at Sotheby’s in Geneva for $48.5 mil­lion. And in early April a 10-carat blue di­a­mond with the pedes­trian name De Beers Mil­len­nium Jewel 4 set an auction record for Asia, sell­ing at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $31.8 mil­lion.

The Blue Moon could be eclipsed on May 18, when Christie’s in Geneva puts forth the largest blue di­a­mond ever auc­tioned: the Op­pen­heimer Blue, a 14.62-carat Fancy Vivid Blue di­a­mond with a pre­sale es­ti­mate of $38 mil­lion to $45 mil­lion. Loose stones aren’t the only things ring­ing up mil­lions; rings do as well. On Apr. 19 Sotheby’s is auc­tion­ing a 9.54-carat blue di­a­mond ring (above) that once be­longed to Shirley Tem­ple. The piece, a gift from her fa­ther when she ap­peared in The Blue Bird at age 12, is ex­pected to sell for $25 mil­lion to $35 mil­lion—or roughly the cost of 10 mil­lion Shirley Tem­ple cock­tails.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.