Fosun to invest .2b in technology over three years

Updated 2018-03-29 13:39:05

Conglomerate Fosun International, which owns Club Med and a stake in Cirque du Soleil within its broad portfolio, aims to invest at least 20 billion yuan (.2 billion) in technology in the next three years.

Fosun's technology investments, which will focus on biotech, fintech and artificial intelligence,, are expected to reach at least 100 billion yuan in the next 10 years, its executives said at an earnings briefing in Hong Kong.

"For every company, if you are not led by the technology, you (probably) won't have a future," billionaire chairman Guo Guangchang said on Wednesday, a day after Fosun reported a 28.2 percent jump in its annual profit to a record high, its fastest growth in four years.

Fosun is one of China's most acquisitive conglomerates and has in the past months snapped up two European fashion labels and taken control of a Brazilian broker in deals worth a combined 5 million. It also holds stakes in lifestyle companies, including AHAVA, an Israeli skincare brand.

On Wednesday, Guo told investors and reporters that Fosun was looking to increase its investments in India, Africa and Portuguese-speaking countries, as it diversifies its focus beyond developed markets in the West.

"When we invest in Europe and the U.S., we set our eyes on the future. But when we move to (invest in) India and Africa, we actually know better where they should head."

The group, like a handful of Chinese conglomerates, is also turning its sights to the domestic market amid a crackdown by the Chinese central government on non-essential overseas acquisitions by private firms.

In December, Fosun and its units acquired a 17.99 percent stake in Tsingtao Brewery Co from Japan's Asahi Group Holdings. In the same month, it sold off a Sydney office tower for A2.5 million (9 million) as part of its efforts to pare back its foreign real estate portfolio.

The group has also moved to strengthen its balance sheet, reduce net debt and balance its acquisitions with asset sales.

Its net gearing ratio, which had been a concern among investors and analysts, fell to 49.7 percent from 60.3 percent at end-2017.

In January, Moody's Investors Service upgraded Fosun's corporate family rating to Ba2, still speculative.

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