Investment

Massive windfall for Beijing family office, but will it go on an investment splurge?

A Beijing-based family office is benefiting from a surge in the revenues and stock price of the owner’s operational business, but that might not translate into an investment boom for the office. 

Wu Capital, owned by Wu Yajun, has been in the past one of a few China-based single-family offices with an international profile, bold enough to invest in local businesses as well as international ones. 

For example, last year, Wu Capital invested alongside many big institutional investors in the Boston-based biotech group, Akouos. With offices in Hong Kong and San Francisco, Wu Capital mainly does biotech investing and has dabbled in consumer and cryptocurrency platform investing. 

In 2017, Wu Capital hired Hannah Chang, a Harvard-trained doctor with a PhD, to open a San Francisco office and target biotech companies in the US. 

Wu Capital is likely to have plenty of spare cash to invest given Longfor Group’s performance, co-founded by Wu Yajun, where she is also chairwoman and its former CEO. 

Longfor was one of Famcap’s biggest risers in its latest ranking of the top 750 family businesses globally. Based in Beijing, Longfor is now a top 100 family business, with revenues of more than $21 billion in 2019. Listed in Hong Kong, the property investment group has also been one of the stock exchange’s best performing shares for much of the last five years. 

That said, Wu Capital appears to have gone quiet with its investments in recent months, not making any direct investments in venture-type businesses since December last year. 

Wu Capital has also rebranded itself in recent years, away from the family office of Wu Yagun, into a “leading Chinese evergreen fund”. There is no mention of Wu Yajun, nor a family office in the “About” itself section of the investment group’s website. 

Given the dominant role of the state in most things related to the private sector in China, Family Capital can only wonder whether Wu Capital’s brand change resulted from Beijing’s wishes. 

In recent years, the prominence of family offices in China has somewhat diminished as China has become more anti-western in its policy statements.     

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