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Collections of Value Investing articles, interviews and videos, especially on Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger and articles from various disciplines to build "Latticework of Mental Models"
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Yu Pengnian: Chinese philanthropist donates it all
Yu Pengnian’s journey from poor street hawker to Hong Kong real-estate magnate was already a remarkable one. Then the 88-year-old did something even rarer that shocked many in increasingly materialistic China: He gave it all away.
Saying he hoped to set an example for other wealthy Chinese, Mr. Yu called a press conference in April to announce he was donating his last 3.2 billion yuan (about $500-million) to a foundation he established five years earlier to aid his pet causes – student scholarships, reconstruction after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and paying for operations for those like him who suffer from cataracts.
“This will be my last donation,” he announced. “I have nothing more to give away.”
With that endowment, Mr. Yu became the first Chinese national to give more than $1-billion to charity, now having contributed almost $1.3-billion in cash and real estate to the Yu Pengnian Foundation.
In a stunned China, the question came quickly: Wouldn’t his children be angry that he had given their inheritance away? “They didn’t oppose this idea, at least not in public,” the eccentric Mr. Yu says, laughing, when asked the question again during an interview at his foundation’s office atop the 57-storey Penglin Hotel in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
“If my children are competent, they don’t need my money,” Mr. Yu explained. “If they’re not, leaving them a lot of money is only doing them harm.”
To make sure that didn’t happen, he appointed HSBC as his foundation’s trustee and stipulated that none of its holdings could be inherited, sold or invested.
In a society where capitalism is just 30 years old, and charitable giving an even younger concept, Mr. Yu says one of his primary goals in making a show out of giving his money away was to set an example to other rich Chinese. “Everybody has a different view of money. Some do good things with it, some rich people do nothing with it. …My goal is to be a leader, a pioneer who encourages rich people, inside and outside of China, to do something charitable.”