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Monday, May 25, 2009

Green Business Billionaire - 10 Years to Forbes Top 13 Rich List

So I was checking up on a stock that I had purchased to see its progress. I had bought into a company called Agrium (AGU) right about the time the stock market hit a new low in Novemeber or so. I bought in at $37 and now its above $50. Its 52 week high was at about $90. So if the fundamental demand for fertilizer picks up, this stock could bring me a decent return.

Anyways I saw an article about green business in China within Agriums news feed on Yahoo finance. According to Ted Turner, the new billionaires are going to be in the green business. He was dead on, as the case blow shows.

Basically this guy graduated university started a company, became successful, invested in solar panel wafers and became a billionaire.Now thats a great success story.

Get the details of the story below in the article!

Investor's Business Daily
Entrepreneurial Spirit Thrives Among China's Wealthy Elite
Norm Alster

By now, there's no shortage of numbers attesting to China's remarkable economic ascent: Three decades of double-digit growth in GDP. An economy that by many measures ranks fourth in the world. And despite persistent poverty, spreading wealth.

More than 320,000 Chinese have assets of 10 million yuan ($1.46 million), according to a study by Bain & Co. and China Merchants Bank.

China had two dozen billionaires last year, Forbes China reports. Though down from its peak due to the plunge in stock values, that's up from 15 megarich in 2006.

Still, for most Westerners the emerging leaders of China's economy have remained faceless and unknown. But behind all those numbers are real people who have lived through decades of massive economic, social and political change. To help humanize China's economic story, IBD spoke with several leading business figures about their childhoods, education and careers. And about the old China of their youth and the transformative changes they've seen.

All three men have similar experiences. Their parents -- doctors, teachers, business executives -- had a measure of status at a time when most Chinese were very poor. That probably helped them get better educations and made it easier to study in America.

Early on they displayed an entrepreneurial and inventive nature that would be familiar to many Silicon Valley self-made giants. They share an incredible drive to succeed as well as an ability to recognize and take advantage of new opportunities and ideas.

Xiaofeng Peng: Founder and chairman of LDK Solar.

As a college student, his interest in optics earned him the nickname "Light." Since then, Xiaofeng Peng has certainly, almost improbably, lived up to that name.

In 2005, he founded LDK Solar , now one of the world's leading solar wafer manufacturers.

Last October, Forbes China listed Peng as No. 13 on its China rich list, estimating his fortune at $2.5 billion (likely much smaller now due to LDK's tumbling share price).

Peng was born in 1975. His father, a rural doctor in Jiangxi Province in southern China, treated mostly farmers. But with economic reform, in the early '80s he started a trading business, selling items like shoes and garments.

The young Peng had his own ambitions. "When I was a boy, I wanted to be a scientist -- like Einstein." As he grew older, he also began to think of business. But Peng also had an insight that would help him in his career. He decided that he needed to learn English.

"If you can't speak English, it's very difficult to do well in international business," he told IBD in a phone interview from China. And yet, opportunities to learn English were scarce.

"At that time, in our province, very few colleges taught good English," he recalled. But Peng was able to choose a school where he could learn the language. "It's helped a lot," he said.

After earning a degree in international business, Peng took to visiting conferences and fairs looking for a business idea. In meeting business people from Europe and America, he found one.

Peng felt sure he could make a go of it selling protective gear -- helmets, safety glasses, gloves. He began by sourcing the products. In time, he invested in his own research and manufacturing, building Liouxin Industrial Group to more than 10,000 employees.

"After seven years, this was one of the biggest manufacturers of safety products in Asia," he said.

But Peng was not done. "In traveling a lot to Europe, especially Germany, I found some customers talking about green energy," he recalled. "I thought this could be a very, very interesting business."

Peng spent two years talking to consultants, engineers and business people, trying to learn more about solar energy. His conclusion: the industry's bottleneck was inadequate production capacity for silicon wafers, from which solar cells are built.

Just turning 30, he founded LDK with $30 million in capital in 2005. In 2008, LDK took in over $1.6 billion in revenue.

Now 34, Peng marvels at the enormous change he's witnessed in the material lives of the Chinese. As a child, he recalls, supplies of everything -- rice, meat and clothing -- were "limited."

"Twenty years ago it wasn't easy to get a TV or a phone. The biggest asset for many people might have been a watch or a bicycle. Now, so many families have houses, cars, electronics."

Peng was asked what he enjoys most about the wealth he has achieved. "I am enjoying working a lot," he replied.

How hard does he work? "I'm working seven days a week. I'm always up late." He might begin at the somewhat leisurely hour of 9 a.m. But his "normal" working day often stretches to midnight. Indeed, the IBD interview took place between 8 and 9 p.m. China time on a Saturday night.

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