Rags to Riches Story of SunTech Powerposted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/12/2006 09:25:00 AM
When he arrived in Australia 18 years ago as a physics student, Shi Zhengrong scraped by on a meager stipend from the Chinese government that he supplemented by working at a restaurant.
A doctorate, several patents, two solar-power companies and a $455 million initial public offering later, Dr. Shi is now one of the richest people in China.
Suntech Power Holdings Co., the company he founded in 2001 in the flat, green lands of the Yangtze River Delta, has quickly become one of the world's largest producers of photovoltaic equipment, which converts sunlight into electricity. The company's combination of first-world technology and developing-world prices has helped it gain market share from more-established, and expensive, producers.
Dr. Shi's wealth, made up almost entirely of his holdings of Suntech stock, has fluctuated in value along with company's volatile share price, from a low of about $1.3 billion to a peak of just over $3 billion; his stake currently is valued at around $1.7 billion. It is, by some estimates, the largest private fortune of anyone living in mainland China.
The story of his journey from China to Australia and back shows how important China's growing openness has become to its people. Nearly three decades after market reforms began, the network of personal, educational and financial ties between China and the rest of the world is reaching a new level. And the Chinese government's willingness to underwrite both advanced education abroad and technology startups at home is starting to pay dividends.