Last week, the regional airport at Hahn ended being sold. It's an interesting episode....mostly because neither FRAPORT or the Pfalz-Hessen joint group could see any way to make a profit off the operation. A 12,000 foot runway....ample ramp area, and a number of buildings.....which all lie about 30 minutes from the autobahn and an hour or so from Frankfurt. Undervalued would be labeled across the whole thing, but the the truth is....no can figure out a gimmick to make the airport work or turn a decent profit.
The buyer? The Yiqian Trading Company out of China.
Frankfurt business journalists are in a daze....no knows the company or the boss (Yiqian Liu).
What can generally be said about the guy is that he ended up as a high-school drop out (born in 1963). His family would have been labeled there in the 1970s as dirt-poor and absolutely from the working class.
In Shanghai, by 1979.....he ended up quitting school and getting into some kind of family business deal....making women's leather bags and selling them. It's not exactly the kind of stuff that legends are made from.
Yiqian has one interesting characteristic in his favor.....he asks questions and looks for a way to cut production costs. In this very minor handbag deal....he's stumbled along to some way to make the bags cheaper and thus undercut all of his competition. Somewhere in this age group of 16 to 18.....he's advanced a step or two in life that most don't grasp until they are well into their thirties.
I spent a fair amount of time reading up on Yiqian, and find that for a decade while in this leather bag buildup.....he made a fair amount of profit and the only real place to stick his profits....treasury bonds. Most people will agree....it's about the safest place to put money, but lousy for profits.
Around 1991 (age 28), he's made a trip into Shanghai to buy supplies. Kinda like the Jack and the Beanstalk episode....Yiqian discovers the stock exchange. Based on the description written of this moment.....it's kinda like a kid in a candy factory.
Yiqian has some element of risk built into his mental side.....and takes a stock bet (perhaps a put, but it's never discussed to any degree)....he walks out with roughly $100,000 in profit. In the beanstalk world.....that's absolutely magic.
So begins this nine-year episode of Yiqian continually walking into the stock market and making such put-calls. He has learned the art of risk and knows how to make it work.
Somewhere around 2000, he forms up a company to take on bigger risks and get deeply into the stock market. It takes his company around fifteen years but they eventually reach a point with capital that they can afford to buy the majority ownership of Hubei Biocause Pharmaceutical. He diversifies and buys into technology and energy-related companies.
His public side? Thats a curious one because he's bought a fair amount of art, and he's noted in Shanghai for his impressive collection.
Someone did a decent interview with him, and asked his opinion of education. It's kinda surprising what he said.....he thought education was useless.....first you learn, then you forget.
As for ownership of other airports? No.....I did a fair amount of research so far and can't find a single situation where they own airports. So this Hahn purchase is a puzzling episode.
Mr Yiqian is absolutely a guy with some plan in his mind, where he can cut costs and make something work in the end...with profit. So he sees Hahn in that manner. It'll be interesting to see the airport in ten years and what has been done with it.