Capping two years of shareholder infighting, the founder of China Vanke — China’s largest property developer and one of the most active Chinese firms in New York — has stepped down.
Wang Shi, who founded China Vanke Group, announced the move on his personal social media account, the New York Times reported. Saying that it was time for a new generation to lead the company, he said an executive team led by Vanke’s president, Yu Liang, would succeed him.
“I’m fully confident in them and filled with anticipation,” he wrote. “In the future, I will continue working for the good of Vanke and society.”
China Vanke, with $34 billion in sales last year, is one of the most active Chinese developers in New York City. It is RFR Holding’s partner at the luxury condo development at 100 East 53rd Street and has teamed up with Slate Property Group and Adam America on two Brooklyn projects, as well as the troubled Rivington House conversion.
Wang, 66, who has cultivated a public persona on social media, was known not just for his business success but for extracurricular interests like climbing Mount Everest, running the Boston Marathon and dating a starlet. But he stumbled two years ago when Vanke became the target of a corporate takeover by insurer Baoneng Group.
In 2016, Wang sought protection from a state-controlled transportation firm, Shenzhen Metro Group, which became the developer’s largest shareholder. Chinese developer Evergrande group also became a shareholder last summer. In a statement, Shenzhen Metro paid tribute to Wang and said it “respects his decision.”
Vanke reportedly lost $10 billion in market value amid takeover uncertainty last year. And the jockeying for position among shareholders drew the attention of Chinese regulators.
Last year, Wang said he would resign if doing so helped shareholders and if his management team, led by Yu, would remain in place. “I’ve become the focus. They want to remove me,” he said. “Yu Liang can become chairman. This is not a bad suggestion.” [NYT] — E.B. Solomont