BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE: JULY 3, 2000 ISSUE

International -- The Stars of Asia -- Entrepreneurs and Dealmakers

Liu Yonghao (int'l edition)

Liu Yonghao
Chairman,
New Hope Group
China
Growing up poor as the son of a village official and his schoolteacher wife in the western China province of Sichuan, Liu Yonghao's big goal was getting a new pair of shoes and a bicycle. In his hometown of Xinjin, the best job he could imagine was becoming a factory worker, a profession held in high esteem in Mao's China. At least then, he figured, he would have enough food and clothing.

How different Liu's outlook is today. The 48-year-old Liu is chairman of the $434 million New Hope Group, one of China's largest private companies. As many old state enterprises are being shut down and their workers laid off, private companies are becoming an ever more important part of China's economy. And entrepreneurs such as Liu are overcoming the years of prejudice that long relegated them to second-class status in socialist China. Indeed, Liu and business leaders like him are becoming the role models for Chinese young people.

Liu's is a tale of amazing perseverance. Despite being a good student in his village, Liu's future was waylaid by the Cultural Revolution, and so he spent three years tending pigs. Later, he was able to enter the Sichuan Machinery Industry Cadres Management School, a technical training school for college-age students and employees of state enterprises. After graduation in 1976, he was assigned by the school to teach electronics, making just $4.60 per month.

Dissatisfied with his meager lot and intrigued by the nascent economic reforms being introduced by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s, Liu and his three brothers scraped together $120 and formed a company. ''I realized the opening of China had begun,'' says Liu. ''So I thought we should grasp the opportunity.'' By 1989, they had a thriving business selling chickens and animal feed. Then, in 1995, the brothers split the company they called the Hope Group into four parts, with Liu taking charge of one subsidiary, the New Hope Group. The name was born of the Liu brothers' hope that private companies would be key to the future of China's economy.

It hasn't been an easy path. Deep-rooted discrimination against private entrepreneurs made it difficult for Liu to obtain loans or contracts for his company. He had a harder time because his business was focused on China's poor western regions. Doubting that his fledgling company would survive, officials were reluctant to deal with him. ''Before, private companies couldn't easily buy land or build factories,'' recalls Liu. ''Enterprises in western China found it even harder to get loans.'' But Liu had good timing: He was concentrating on the food market just as consumers began to have money to afford meat. New Hope was well placed for the boom in animal production and animal feed.

SELF-IMPROVEMENT. Now his company is a powerhouse. It has 46 feed and food-processing factories across southwest China and in Vietnam. It does property development in Sichuan and in the northeast China city of Dalian. And it is the biggest shareholder in the Beijing-based Minsheng Bank, China's first private bank. New Hope, which employs 6,800 people, has been profitable since it was founded, and revenues reached $434 million last year, up 14% over 1998.

Liu has worked hard to promote private enterprise. Six years ago, he organized Project Glory, a group of 10 private enterprises seeking investment opportunities in China's poorest western regions. Last year, Liu gathered in Beijing 41 entrepreneurs who all pledged to maintain good business practices, including paying workers on time and maintaining product quality. Liu also pleads the case of business in his roles on the Chinese Industry & Commerce Federation and a government advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. ''Not only does the government need to accept private companies,'' he says, ''we must also must improve ourselves.''

Things could get even better for Liu. China is now pressing to develop the west and invest billions in infrastructure. New respect for the role of private business should also help. Chinese private companies now number over 1.5 million, up 20.5% in the past year alone, and employ more than 20 million people. ''Private companies are one part of the economy that can create social value,'' says Liu. ''The development of private enterprise will help the whole country.'' You can bet the onetime villager will keep broadcasting that message.



Kumi Sato (int'l edition)

Kumi Sato
Kumi Sato
Founder,
womenjapan.com
Japan
Kumi Sato sounds more like an evangelist than an entrepreneur when she talks about her new e-venture, womenjapan.com. The president of Japan's first Internet site for women calls it her ''mission'' to help others burst through the bamboo ceiling that has kept Japanese women off the top rungs of the corporate ladder. ''Women lack a message to make them believe that they should be in power,'' she says.

Sato, 40, is the ideal messenger. Thirteen years ago, the Tokyo native returned from working as a McKinsey & Co. consultant in New York to take over Cosmo Public Relations Corp., a family business that was floundering after the death of her father. Undaunted by Japan's male-dominated business environment, the bilingual, bicultural Sato took a firm that mainly did publishing for Japanese blue chips and turned it into a full-fledged public-relations shop that specialized in helping foreign companies, such as United Parcel Service, enter the Japanese market. Sato altered Cosmo's corporate culture by hiring foreign employees and emphasizing merit over age or gender.

Along the way, Sato noticed that women she interviewed to be employees had the smarts but not the knowledge of business to succeed. The problems were obvious and long-standing: Japan's female workforce was hamstrung by a lack of role models, networking opportunities, and practical education. Women who quit careers to raise families usually lost them permanently and were isolated from information that could help them improve their personal lives or recharge their careers.

Womenjapan.com was Sato's solution. With $500,000 of her own money and $3 million from family and contacts in the U.S., she launched the site last September. Some 15,000 members have signed up. The site offers career counseling and advice on everything from finding a divorce lawyer to smart investing to securing capital to launch one's own company. Womenjapan.com earns revenue through advertising and consulting fees from companies trying to reach women, who are the fastest-growing segment of Japan's online population. Sato expects to turn a profit in three years.

Sato wants the site to be more than just a virtual playground. She wants to bring users face-to-face and has sponsored an awards ceremony for women with their own e-business plans, with $9,500 in seed money as the grand prize. An Osaka housewife who had a plan to help care for the elderly via the Internet won. Sato says womenjapan.com offers practical solutions rather than simple fashion tips, unlike the many Japanese women's magazines that ''treat women as an audience that's simply interested in consumption.''

Sato attributes her success to an achievement-minded family. In 1902, her grandfather stowed away on a ship to the U.S. and later returned to Japan to become education minister and speaker of the Lower House of the Diet. Her mother and role model, Taeko Matsuda, helped rebuild Japan after World War II and recently earned an engineering PhD at Tokyo University at age 72.

Sato attended an American school in Tokyo--her parents believed an international education and English fluency are crucial for the new generation of Japanese--and graduated from Wellesley College in the U.S. Today she still runs Cosmo. But womenjapan.com is where her heart is. ''Mission and business can coincide,'' Sato says. She's determined to make that happen for Japanese women.



Joichi Ito (int'l edition)

Joichi Ito
Joichi Ito
Founder,
Neoteny
Japan
Joichi Ito is an entrepreneur with a calling: to nurture risk-takers who will help build Japan's Internet economy. Last December, he launched Neoteny, Japan's first self-financed incubator for Web and e-commerce ventures. It seeds fledgling ideas and helps budding entrepreneurs develop business plans and get financing from the big guys. Neoteny hopes to create success stories that will, in turn, fund new ventures along the way. ''We're going to need lots and lots of entrepreneurs to rebuild Japan,'' says Ito, 34. ''With my experience and support, I can help.''

Ito is a rarity in the Japanese business world. He's bicultural, having spent his formative years in Canada and the U.S., where his father was a chemistry professor. A college dropout, he started Eccosys in 1994. It designed some of Japan's first Web sites and helped firms set up online operations. That was the start of a string of winning ventures: Eccosys grew into Digital Garage, a leading Web consulting firm. Ito also set up the Japan offices of PSINET, an Internet service provider, and portal Infoseek Japan, of which he is chairman.

Neoteny ''is not about personal gain,'' says Ito, ''but about encouraging a lot of good companies to bloom.''



Michael Mou (int'l edition)

Michael Mou
Michael Mou
Founder,
DBTel
Taiwan
Michael Mou, 49, was hardly an instant success. The electrical engineer spent two decades building up the telecom-equipment manufacturer he founded fresh out of business school in Taiwan in 1979. While other Taiwan companies established stardom in the booming PC business, Mou struggled to make DBTel Inc. a leader in less glamorous products: keypads and cordless handsets. ''Cordless wasn't a really big market,'' says Mou. ''So the company had a very low profile.''

Mou isn't toiling in obscurity now. The advent of the wireless Internet and booming demand for cell phones has made telecom equipment hot--and vindicated Mou's early bet on the sector. Nearly 10 years ago, he started making cellular phones using the GSM standard common in Europe and Asia. An original-equipment manufacturer for Motorola Inc., DBTel is one of the hottest Taiwan companies around. ''I have always said that the personal communicator could create the future of Taiwan,'' he says. His company's stock is up 330% in the past 12 months.

But he's also cautious, remembering that he came close to bankruptcy twice in the early '80s, when inventories got out of hand. ''They were very bad experiences,'' he says simply. As a result, Mou avoids debt as much as possible. Still, he is pushing aggressively to expand DBTel's production capacity--from 3 million handsets last year to 18 million this year. Says Mou: ''We are the pioneers.''



ONLINE ORIGINAL: A Chat with Michael Mou

Michael Mou is the founder and chairman of DBTel, a leading Taiwanese mobile-phone producer. He recently spoke with Business Week Asia Correspondent Bruce Einhorn about a hot industry. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q. You've had a lot of ups and downs in your career. What was DBTel making when you founded it 21 years ago?
A.
The first product we made was a computer dialer. That was in 1979, when microprocessor technology happened. We lost a lot of money with that first machine. We learned we had to start from a very simple product. So we went back to push-button dialer business. In 1981, when Judge Green deregulated AT&T, the American market picked up for one-piece phones. Then we went to multifeature telephones. Then to analog cordless. Then to digital 900 cordless. We had 75% of Taiwan's total cordless telephone. But cordless wasn't a really huge market, and the company had a very low profile.

Q. So you're no Johnny-come-lately to the phone industry. When did you make the move to cellular phones?
A.
We started to design GSM [the so-called third-generation wireless technology] five or six years ago. But the first-generation products didn't go very well, the quality and performance was not there. In 1998, we started with Motorola. We had experience with cordless telephones, which were similar technology to GSM, especially for the manufacturing side. So Motorola chose us as a partner.

Q. How did some of your early setbacks affect your management style?
A.
In last 21 years, there were two times when the bankers came to seize [our assets]. They were very bad experiences. So I try to manage the company with very limited debt. We are much more conservative.

Q. What's coming up next for DBTel?
A.
Third-generation phones. We will launch in September this year. It is 79 grams -- very light. And it's 85 cc -- very small. The standby time is very long -- over 350 hours -- and the talking time is over four hours. So it is quite advanced. This year, coming out with 25 new models in cellular handsets.

Q. Now mobile phones are suddenly a hot sector. After struggling for so many years, do you feel vindicated?
A.
Five or six years ago, I always said to the government that the personal communicator could create the future of Taiwan. Taiwan needs next-generation products. Fifteen or 20 years ago, Taiwan started with the PC and semiconductor industry. The personal communicator is the next generation product to replace the personal computer. Taiwan really needs to put more effort and resources into personal communicators. That is the Taiwanese future.

Q. What do you make of all the Taiwanese computer makers now hatching plans to become mobile-phone manufacturers? Do you feel threatened?
A.
We are the pioneers of this category. Up till now, we have been one step ahead. So we welcome the competition: It's a very big industry that needs money and resources. Taiwan can then become the center of the personal-communicator industry. Once we become the center, then everyone will come here.




Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II (int'l edition)

Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II
CEO,
Ayala Corp.
Philippines
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II comes from an old-line family that has been a conservative, powerful part of the Philippine economy for more than two centuries. But with a dashing series of acquisitions and management initiatives, the 41-year-old Harvard University MBA and fitness enthusiast is breathing new life into the old business group.

One example is his success at the family's Globe Telecom, which he has built into a winner in the Philippines' brutal cell-phone wars. Globe had mostly wallowed in losses since its founding in the early 1990s. But last year, it saw profits surge fortyfold, to $22 million on sales of $222 million. New subscribers are signing up at a rate of three per minute, triple last year's pace. Globe now expects to overtake Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications Co., the troubled former monopoly, to become the leader in cell-phone subscribers by the end of the year.

To revive Globe, Zobel de Ayala shook up management, acquired a smaller mobile carrier, created a nationwide digital network, and pushed customers to use prepaid cell-phone cards--thereby eliminating the bad-debt problem plaguing other operators. Most importantly, Zobel launched a wildly popular text-messaging service that has Filipinos sending 18 million messages to one another every day.

Zobel de Ayala also made an important acquisition for the family banking business: He engineered the takeover of Far East Bank & Trust Corp. The purchase, done along with the Development Bank of Singapore, adds to the Ayala group's already powerful Bank of the Philippine Islands. Zobel de Ayala has also been pushing the group to embrace the Internet and bring its telecom, property, and banking operations together online.

When not busy with day-to-day management, Zobel de Ayala is an avid environmentalist. He's a board member of the World Wildlife Fund in the U.S. And--as a snorkeler in a family of divers--he has campaigned to save the Philippines' spectacular coral reefs, imperiled by dynamite, cyanide, and other destructive practices used in fishing. Watch for more bold actions on behalf of his family's centuries-old business.



N.R. Narayana Murthy (int'l edition)

N.R. Narayana Murthy
N.R. Narayana Murthy
Founder,
Infosys Technologies
India
N.R. Narayana Murthy, 52, tops the polls as India's most admired businessman. He's certainly an inspiration: He and six colleagues used their combined life savings of $1,000 to found Infosys Technologies in 1981. The provider of Internet and e-commerce software services had annual sales of $200 million last year, while profits soared 260%.

Now, Murthy is working to make Infosys as respected around the world as it is at home. Last year, he handed over daily management of Infosys to co-founder Nandan Nilekani. Murthy spends half his time traveling the world, meeting customers, investors, and even students. The U.S. is very competitive, so ''we have to increase our brand equity there,'' says Murthy. Infosys' U.S. customer base doubled last year, to 200 clients.

Murthy, a humble engineer from southern India, is in some ways too shy for his role as model and statesman. He doesn't like to talk about it, but he gives away untold millions of dollars in gains from the Infosys stock he sells when prices rise, mostly to benefit higher education in India. This year, he was awarded one of India's highest civilian awards, the Padma Shri, for his contribution to the IT industry. Murthy sits on a Prime Ministerial task force on developing technology, which he says is the key to eradicating India's poverty. ''If technology is to reduce costs, to improve production, who needs these more than the poor?'' he says.

Despite the phenomenal rise of his fortunes, Murthy retains his modest ways. He still does a full day's work and then some, but these days he allows himself one indulgence. Instead of arriving at his Bangalore office at 6 every morning as he has for years, Murthy now starts at 7 a.m.



ONLINE ORIGINAL: A Chat with N.R. Narayana Murthy

N.R. Narayana Murthy, the founder and Chairman of India's spectacular technology success story, Infosys Technologies, visited New York recently and met with a team of Business Week editors, including International Managing Editor Bob Dowling, Assistant International Managing Editor Christopher Power, and Asia Editor Sheri Prasso. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: We hear you've become quite a philanthropist, that you're making large donations with money from sales of your personal Infosys stock. Can you tell us about the money you're giving away?
A:
I'm somewhat reticent talking about it. I'd be happier skipping to another topic.

Q: Can you give us an idea of how much it is? Millions? Tens of millions?
A:
Well, more, but let me not talk about it. These are topics that are best not discussed. They're best done.

Q: At least, what is the objective of the donations you're making?
A:
The objective is to make sure our institutions of higher learning regain their glory of the '60s and '70s. In India, the cost of inflation has far exceeded the increased support that government gives to the institutions. We [my wife and I] feel there is quite a lot of work that needs to be done in making sure that there are new buildings, and for faculty members, for scholarships.

Q: Do you want to discuss where you see Infosys going in the next five years?
A:
I would be very happy if the company becomes globally respected. It's very highly respected in India today. In January, when there was a survey among 1,600-plus general managers of all industries asking them to vote their most admired company, they voted for Infosys among 7,500 listed companies, plus an equal or higher number of unlisted companies.

I think in India we have been fairly successful in gaining respect and our reputation. But the real challenge is to get respect and reputation in a market like this [the U.S.] with a lot of smart companies, a lot of role models, a lot of high performers.

Secondly, we obviously want to provide best services to our customers, so we have to enhance our knowledge and make sure we provide core solutions.

Thirdly, in our mission statement is employing best practices, to attract good talent...[and] to make the company more multicultural. Obviously, our objective is to create an environment where people of different nationalities come together and work in an environment of intense competition but mutual respect, to add greater and greater value to our customers.

Q: What are you doing to achieve this?
A:
I believe in synergizing the organizational objectives and individual aspirations. The organizational objectives are in some senses nonnegotiable. The company has to grow. Having done that, how do we make sure individuals are enthusiastic about that? Some people may want better compensation. Some people may want more recognition. Some people may want more free time to learn new things, etcetera. We try to see how the organizational objectives are maintained while the individual aspirations are being met. Most of it has happened in India. Now our challenge is to bring it outside of India.

Q: This is a pretty competitive job culture here, and you have to meet the demands of the market. How do you do that?
A:
We have an options plan. In fact, when we went public, one of the major reasons was to create an option plan. The stock doing well has been a double-edged sword. People who have been given options are very happy, but what about new options that you want to give people? At what seems high levels, how do you make sure people have capital appreciation? We were the first ones to [introduce share options in India] in a formal way on a reasonable scale. Many, many companies are following now. We got the Exchange Board of India to come out with a new legal framework, modeled on the U.S., last year.... My view is that God is still not finished with Infosys, and we are in the initial stages.

Q: How likely is it that the IT revolution in India can really have an impact economically?
A:
I'm a heretic in many, many ways. For example, I'm the only corporate leader in India, who says companies who make export profits must pay taxes. I've become absolutely unpopular. So even here, I say technology has as much relevance to the poor as it has to the rich.

I'll tell you why I say that: A couple of months ago, I was coming out of my office and one of the attendants, one of the people who bring coffee and tea and clean tables, he was coming out, and he was smiling. He was very happy. I said, "What, man, why are you so happy? What has happened?"

He said, "I got this urgent call from my village, I have to go back and go to see my father, somebody is not well."

I said, "This couldn't make you happy."

He said, "No, I could get money. I went to the ATM and got money."

I said, "That's no big deal."

He explained, "When I go to a bank counter, first of all I am not dressed suitably, and the counter clerk does not show as much interest in serving me. Second, if I go to the counter at 3:55 because they close at 4:00, they don't serve me because they want to close up and go.

"On the other hand, this machine is a great leveler. I stand in the queue. It doesn't matter whether it's me or the Chairman. We all stand in the queue. We put in our cards. We get the money."

In some senses, technology is a great leveler. Secondly, if technology is to reduce costs, if technology is to improve productivity, who needs these things more than the poor? So I've been having a big battle with my government, saying

we need technology much more than anybody else.

The poor need technology! In Bombay, 50% of the taxi drivers are from the villages. They come to the city, they are away from their families, they get to go back once in six months. So we said, "Let's conduct an experiment: Take a taxi driver in Bombay, and use Internet technology to keep them in touch." I personally believe technology has tremendous impact on the Indian economy.

Q: Is the government becoming more cooperative?
A:
I think the history of 200 years can't be wiped out in a hurry. I find that the mindset of bureaucracy in India is changing, but is still one of maximization of revenue for the government and is against any scheme that, in the short term, will reduce revenue for the government. So I think that's a big issue in India.




Hiroshi Mikitani (int'l edition)

Hiroshi Mikitani
Hiroshi Mikitani
CEO,
Rakuten Inc.
Japan
Hiroshi Mikitani, 35, was an early convert to the Web. Five years ago, he left a promising career as an investment banker to set up his own Internet consulting firm, serving clients such as Softbank Corp. Then, in 1997, he launched Rakuten, the first cybermall in Japan to offer retailers a low-cost way to reach consumers on the Internet. With the Japanese economy in decline, it looked like the worst possible time to launch an online retail venture. But Mikitani saw only opportunity: ''I knew that the Internet would eventually take off in Japan, and I wanted to be a part of it.''

Turns out he was right. Rakuten ranks as the largest and most popular shopping destination on the Japanese-language Web. And Mikitani is one of the brightest stars to emerge on Japan's fledgling Internet stage. Millions of consumers log on daily to the electronic marketplace to buy everything from fresh fish to insurance to toys from stores that don't have the money or inclination to set up their own network and operate a Web site. In April, when Mikitani took Rakuten public on Jasdaq, Tokyo's over-the-counter market, it was the most successful debut by a Net company in Japan this year. Rakuten, which is 50%-owned by Mikitani and his family, raised $430 million in the offering. The company's market cap has since soared to $6 billion. Many of Japan's other newly listed e-ventures, by contrast, have seen their share prices plummet during the recent sell-off in technology stocks.

Mikitani, who dresses casually in polo shirts and khaki pants, has an easygoing manner. But don't be fooled: He's a workaholic driven by ambition. With his wife at his side, he works 15 hour days, often six days a week. And apart from the occasional round of golf, he has no hobbies. His aim is to create Asia's biggest consumer shopping and trading destination. He's managed to build up Rakuten from 13 vendors to more than 3,100, who all pay him a monthly fee. The site attracts some 70 million page views a month, second only to Softbank's portal, Yahoo! Japan. Operating profit in the first three months of this year reached $1.9 million on sales of $4 million, nearly reaching the total of Rakuten's profits and sales in the whole year of 1999.

If not for a stint at Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA in 1993, Mikitani might still be an investment banker at the staid Industrial Bank of Japan. During his bank-sponsored years at Harvard, he learned about the challenges of running a business and took note of the rise of Net startups in Silicon Valley. Mikitani was shaped by U.S. culture well before his Harvard days. As a child, he lived for two years in New Haven, Conn., where his economist father taught at Yale University.

Upon graduation from Harvard, Mikitani returned to the IBJ where he worked for two years and saved enough to launch Crimson Group, a merger-and-acquisition consulting company he still operates today. In 1997, he plowed his savings into Rakuten, which so far has remained debt-free. ''I wanted to set up a real Internet business, a model for other startups in Japan to follow,'' says Mikitani. He's on his way.



Li Ka-shing (int'l edition)

Li Ka-shing
Chairman,
Hutchison Whampoa/Cheung Kong
Hong Kong
Superman, as the press dubs Li Ka-shing, has stunned even his biggest fans: He sold off his British telecom operator, Orange PLC, in a two-step transaction late last year and parlayed the investment into a $22 billion profit for shareholders. Then, before the dust settled, Li's Hutchison Whampoa bought a next-generation mobile phone license in Britain for a modest fee. The moves follow a pattern of savvy business practices that has served the 71-year-old tycoon well over the years and allowed him to become one of the few Asian businessmen with the ability to play on the global stage. Li's empire started with manufacturing plastic flowers back in 1950 and could have ended with Li simply retiring rich as one of Hong Kong's top property developers. But Li, a master networker, has parlayed his local success into a global empire. His telecom networks range from Australia to the U.S. to the Middle East. And he owns the world's largest independent port operator, with handling facilities from Jakarta to the Panama Canal to Britain.

Reflecting his roots as an immigrant from China, Li lives modestly--though he's stepped up security since his eldest son was kidnapped four years ago. Bodyguards now shadow him. A believer in feng shui, Li redrew the plans for his 70-story Cheung Kong Center so that it wouldn't be affected by the angular Bank of China building, which stands menacingly next door. Li's corner office commands one of Hong Kong's most stunning views. ''The money flows in, and it's captured here,'' he told another tenant in the building. Indeed.



Masayoshi Son (int'l edition)

Masayoshi Son
Founder,
Softbank Corp.
Japan
Masayoshi Son has built Softbank Corp. into the world's biggest Internet holding company by leveraging some $3.8 billion into equity stakes in 300 companies including Yahoo! Inc., online financier E*Trade Group Inc., and all manner of e-commerce players in the U.S. and Asia. Son is on the prowl for more. Softbank has lined up an additional $2 billion to expand into Europe, China, and Latin America. Last month, Son and a group of investors spent nearly $1 billion to acquire nationalized Nippon Credit Bank and turn it into a lender for New Economy companies in the high-tech world.

Even though Softbank's shares have fallen 70% since mid-February, they are still up fourfold over the past 14 months. One reason is Son's strategy of placing hundreds of tiny bets on a whole range of new technologies, instead of seeking a controlling interest in a few. ''On the Net everything moves so quickly, so you have to do things differently,'' says the 42-year-old ethnic Korean billionaire who grew up dirt-poor in southern Japan and now lives in a palatial home in central Tokyo. Son's strategy, while still unproven for the long haul, has become a model for investors around the region.



Richard Li (int'l edition)

Richard Li
Richard Li
Chairman,
Pacific Century CyberWorks
Hong Kong
As Hong Kong companies race to reinvent themselves for the Internet Age, Richard Li, 33, is setting the standard. The son of tycoon Li Ka-shing has transformed what was a small property developer into Pacific Century CyberWorks, the biggest Internet holding company in non-Japan Asia. His controversial contract to build Cyber-Port, Hong Kong's Silicon Valley, with free government land, has pushed ahead Hong Kong's hopes of becoming an Internet hub. He has inspired a slew of startups keen to take advantage of Hong Kong's new focus on the Net. Li cleverly found a way to convert his paper into hard assets while the Internet bubble was still expanding--a bid for telecom giant Cable & Wireless HKT worth $29 billion--and used his family's unrivaled connections in Beijing to do it.

A favorite of Hong Kong's gossip masters, the unmarried Li creates headlines simply by going to the barber.





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MANAGERS
ENTREPRENEURS AND DEALMAKERS
Liu Yonghao
Kumi Sato
Joichi Ito
Michael Mou
 + A Chat with Michael Mou
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II N.R. Narayana Murthy
 + A Chat with N.R. Narayana Murthy
Hiroshi Mikitani
Li Ka-shing
Masayoshi Son
Richard Li
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