No place like Gome for a revitalised Huang Guangyu 

Consumer electronics giant’s founder has vowed to put his jail term behind him and reclaim the No1 position for his retail empire 

No place like Gome for a revitalised Huang Guangyu 
Huang Guangyu's return sparked capital market interest in the big box retail outlet chain. File photo by AFP.

(ATF) China’s one-time youngest billionaire, now released from prison after a 10-year jail sentence for corruption, has pledged to put his Gome retail empire back on top of the pile.

The consumer electronics retailer’s founder, Huang Guangyu, has launched an 18-month campaign called FLAG with the aim of restoring Gome's pre-eminent market position.

Huang, it seems, has undergone something of a turnaround while in jail and has also been full of praise for Chinese Communist Party policies. He told state media: "We will strive to restore the company's original market position in the next 18 months.”

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Huang Guangyu's return ignited capital market interest in the big box retail outlet chain. On February 19, Gome Retail (00493.HK) saw the biggest intraday increase of 24.70% and closed at 1.96 yuan per share. 

At present, its total market value exceeds HK$40 billion, while his other firm, the Shenzhen-listed Zhongguancun (000931.SZ) hit the intraday daily limit and closed at 7.79 yuan per share, with a market value of 5.87 billion yuan.

In 2008, Huang Guangyu was imprisoned for the crime of illegal business operations, insider trading and bribery. At that time, it was a good time for Gome – it had acquired Yongle, Sanlian and other large and medium-sized electric appliance retail chain giants. And in that year, Gome's annual sales reached 120 billion yuan, making it a Fortune 500 company.

With Huang Guangyu’s imprisonment, GOME’s dominance in China has gradually declined and its market share has fallen – in 2019 the retail sales of Gome's retail home appliance market only accounted for 5.8% of the total. Old rival Suning Tesco had 22.8% and JD.com 14.4%.

REAL ESTATE

Huang Guangyu still holds 242 companies and serves as a representative legal person in four companies. Among them are Beijing Pengrun Real Estate Development Co, Ltd and Gome Real Estate Holdings Co Ltd which are mainly involved in the real estate field.

For Huang Guangyu's Gome Empire, the 1990s was a period of rapid development of China's real estate industry and he brought retail thinking to real estate, advocating small profits but quick turnover. 

From 2005 to 2009, Huang Guangyu enjoyed his most prosperous period. Relying on the strong development of Gome, he repeatedly topped the Hurun China 100 Rich List. But all this disappeared with the advent of a prison term and the real estate business also declined.

In April 2009, Gome's real estate projects in Beijing and other cities across the country were transferred, including the Jianguo Hotel, Gome Plaza (Gome Commercial City), some first-class development land in Changping, commercial real estate projects in Chongqing and Tianjin, and industrial land in Shenyang. 

PROJECT SALE

In June 2020, Gome sold the project in Beijing Yuexiu City, a commercial and office complex with a construction area of 130,000 square meters. The sale of this project helped Huang Guangyu recover 4 billion yuan.

In addition to real estate, Huang Guangyu also has other capital. At present, Gome Holding Group has 5 listed companies, namely Gome Retail (00493.HK), *ST Meixun (600898.SH), Gome Financial Technology (00628.HK), Zhongguancun (000931.SZ) and Lajin Net Entertainment (08172.HK).

As early as June 24, 2020, after the news that he had been released from prison, Gome Retail (00493.HK) had risen sharply, reaching 24.64% at one time, and rising 17.39% at the close of the day. 

Now, with Huang Guangyu's official release, the capital market is boiling again and on February 19, Gome’s retail market rose by 24.70%, with a market value of HK$42.2 billion as of closing.

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