Mr Pan loses $13 billion
It is likely that many in the polo world have not heard of his name, as that is the way he likes it – most however will have become aware of one of his major projects in recent years, as his emerald pitches become part of the growing polo scene in the Far East.
Pan Sutong is the man behind the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club and Hotel, a relatively unknown 52 year old property and electronics tycoon based in Hong Kong who made the headlines last week when his companies Goldin Financial Holdings Ltd and Goldin Properties Holdings Ltd which has surged more than 350% over the last year, making him number four on Bloomberg’s Asia wealth ranking – having made $22 Billion in a year. By the end of Thursday, May 21st however the stock dropped from $31 to $11.40, he had lost $12.7 billion and dropped to number twenty on the Asia rich list. The shares are now back to around $20 – ‘We carry out our business as usual, just like the way we have been doing, when our stock price is high and when it is low,’ Mr Pan said in an e-mailed response during Thursday’s stock decline.
A place amongst the top four wealthiest people in Asia would indeed seem fitting for the owner of Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club and Hotel given its website description:
‘Imagine a world of utmost exclusivity at China’s new nexus, where the people that matter meet. The Metropolitan Polo Club is located at one of Tianjin’s most desirable new addresses, set amidst a 222-acre private estate of rolling lawns, manicured gardens and sparkling fountains and within easy reach of Beijing and Shanghai. Here, at China’s largest and most prestigious polo club, the new nobility gathers. The thunder of hooves and the crisp crack of mallets create a heady atmosphere for serious moving and shaking. Play with the power elite. Network with those in the know.’
For those who like their polo ponies this is indeed the place to be, with the club offering playing members over 260 ponies chosen from top strings around the world on which they can play.
So how did it all begin for the Hong Kong executive who trades in property, wine and Factoring? Growing up in Shaoguan, in Guangdong province with his paternal grandmother, at 13 he moved to San Marion, California to live with his step-grandmother. Education was not really for him, leaving school aged 18, his is a tale of many classes missed and little English language learnt, so his was sent by his family to Hong Kong with $500,000 and the instructions ‘to make something of his life.’ Instructions it is fair to say he followed to the letter, by first trading in Japanese electronics, by 2008 he was able to purchase 220 acres of land in Tianjin on which he is still continuing to build his visionary $10 billion project featuring a members-only polo club set amongst luxury residences and a central business district marked by a 117 storey office block.
He has also made his mark in the racing world with his thoroughbred Akeed Mofeed earning HK$28.6 million ($3.7 million) last year before retiring to his South Australian stud farm to sire 60 mares (with 40 being owned by Mr Pan) – a place in his billion dollar property portfolio which he could reach, should he desire too, in his private Gulfstream G550 in which he flies between homes in Los Angeles, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and London. Whilst in the UK, during the month of June he can also be found heading for the Beaufort Polo Club in Gloucestershire to watch Prince William and Harry’s play in their annual charity match, which his Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club and Hotel has sponsored since 2012.
It might not be a trouble-free existence when you ‘take your place amongst the elite’ at the very top of the Bloomberg Asia wealth ranking and own a polo establishment in the heart of Tianjin – a place known as ‘China’s tomorrow’. Not in a week like this one has been, when ‘tomorrow’ in the world of Chinese share trading means your company can lose $12.7 billion (over half its value) in two days. Pan Sutong however doesn’t seem fazed at the turn of events, or his new ranking of 20th on the Asia rich list. As he told a reporter in a recent interview: ‘A genuinely wealthy person would not count his wealth every day – its better if you just leave me off the list.’
It looks like the polo world in China has a player who is here to stay however rough the ride-off.