Monday, November 5, 2012
Love life of two real estate tycoons under the microscope
First, China Vanke Co Ltd founder and chairman Wang Shi is rumoured to have divorced his wife Wang Jianghui for young actress Tian Pujun. The 61-year-old billionaire and Tian who is almost half his age were even said to have a child together. Then, Soho China chairman Pan Shiyi was dragged into media attention when someone posted on Weibo (Chinese microblog equivalent to Twitter) that Pan and a woman had a seven-year-old daughter out of wedlock. Wang Shi, a charismatic figure in the property development industry with a passion for adventure, has always been in touch with his peers and fans on his Sina and QQ Weibo. The latest news posted on his Weibo was only about his university life. China Vanke said last year that Wang Shi was pursuing his studies at Harvard University for three years but he would still be China Vanke’s chairman while he was away. “A media company wanted to follow me and report on my studies at Harvard. (It was) turned down; (the) reason (was because) I do not feel at ease,” he tweeted on Oct 27. He then listed out his schedule of the day: morning jog, breakfast, back in his apartment to do homework, class on the history of Christianity, seminars and back to his apartment. Last month, rumours of a marriage breakdown between Wang Shi and his wife started to spread on the Internet. Netizens claimed that Wang Shi and Tian met in an executive class conducted at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing. They became close to each other when Tian sought his advice on the property market. A photograph purportedly showing Wang Shi and a woman seated next to each other on board a flight was circulated on the web. Those who posted the photo claimed that the couple was intimate and the woman helped the man to take off his jacket. Last week, a posting by someone with the heading “Wang Shi’s ex-wife’s declaration on news of his marriage breakdown” was later found to be not genuine. According to the writer of another posting on Pan’s affairs, after Pan’s wife Zhang Xin found out about it, she queried her husband but to no avail. She then sought the help of Ren Zhiqiang, another property tycoon in Beijing, to advise the 49-year-old Pan to resolve his external affairs once and for all. However, last Friday, Zhang, who founded Soho China together with Pan, brushed aside the rumours. “Pan and I are married for 18 years and we have gone through ups and downs together,” she tweeted on her Sina Weibo. “Be it the pressure from the initial stage of our entrepreneurship or the divorce speculations, every test we have been through actually made our marriage stronger and made us appreciate this family more.” She said success should not be measured by how much money one made or how many buildings one built but rather how much his family and loved ones cared about him. In its editorial, Global Times said the stories of Pan and Wang Shi’s private life emerged perhaps because there was little else going on in the property market. “The surge in sales of housing property in September and October that many were hoping for failed to materialise. Moreover, with the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China coming soon, leaders in Beijing are unlikely to re-examine policies for the property market for at least several weeks,” it said. Beijing Times said that gossips aside, what really concerned industry players was that whether China Vanke, the country’s biggest property developer, would be affected by news of its chairman’s love life. The newspaper said that the share prices of China Vanke had not dropped drastically but the rumoured distribution of wealth if Wang Shi were to divorce with his wife would likely affect the share ownership in the company’s top management.