An old friend recently visited Yang Rong and told him: “People say that you spend your days walking your dog on the street, with a baseball cap and a bent back, and stop for a cup of coffee.” Yang quipped: “Such comment must come from a class enemy!”
Yang just came back from skiing the day he spoke with the reporter on the phone. He learned to ski three years ago and would go twice every year. But this time he spent six days and five nights at the ski resort.
Not that he is no longer busy. Just the opposite. Yang Rong has registered a new company in the U.S., another auto company. He has asked the Italians to design his vehicles, but these are non-traditional fuel efficient and environmental friendly vehicles. He said he was planning to set up two assembly plants, one in the U.S. and the other in Asia. In addition, Yang owns two mutual funds, one of which is a new one dedicated for charity education.
Yang’s goal: to build an automobile assembly plant with an annual capacity of 100,000 units in 10 years and to build 100 charity elementary schools.
Yang Rong could hardly forget Brilliance and spent much of the two and a half hours on the phone talking about his reflections and comments.
Yingcai: Two years ago your comment was that Brilliance had only one percent chance of survival. What is your comment today?
Yang: No change. The situation there is worse. It is like an automobile Waterloo. Not easy.
Yingcai: What can be done?
Yang: People say that Qi’s goal is to make automobiles, with finance as a means, and my goal is the capital market and making automobiles is only a means. But they have missed a fundamental point here. For an established global automaker, you may say that the goal should be making automobiles. But the difficulty of Brilliance today is capital. In a global economy, Brilliance must recognize the importance of utilizing the capital market to tide over its difficulties.
Qi Yumin should focus on both the capital market and automobile manufacture. Currently Brilliance is unable to fully utilize its two public listings, the Shenyang Jinbei and the Shanghai Shenhua. For automobile assembly, his key challenge is how to make a profit.
Yingcai: What do you think is your legacy at Brilliance?
Yang: Shenyang wanted to make cars the day it began making the Haise light van. I was instrumental in getting the license for Shenyang to make cars. BMW may not have decided to invest in Shenyang without my planning and work.
Yingcai: Why did you decide to move the MG Rover project to Ningbo?
Yang: I was possessed, crazy. Ningbo city officials talked about the ocean bridge between Shanghai and Ningbo, which could cut the time of driving from Shanghai to Ningbo by half to only two hours. You could collect tolls on both ends of the bridge. I told them that I wanted to build the bridge. I was planning then to take over 51.3 percent of the Shanghai Grand Hyatt, the tallest building in China. What a great idea, I told myself, owning China’s tallest building and the world’s longest bridge! When I started negotiating with Ningbo, they gave me a condition that I had to bring an automobile assembly business to the city. That led to the talks about the MG Rover project. If I had decided to keep the MG Rover project in Dalian, nothing would have happened to me.
Yingcai: Do you regret your decision?
Yang: Regret does not help in this world. I see it as destiny and as a test from God. But God also says do not give up. And in five years I will start a new automobile group.
Rewritten by Jun Wen based on the author’s article published in Ying Cai, or Genius