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Business

New Hope Group has $1bn for Belt and Road countries

Chinese conglomerate also to open online bank for young entrepreneurs

Liu Yonghao

BEIJING -- New Hope Group has unveiled plans to focus its overseas investments in countries that will benefit from China's Belt and Road Initiative, meant to link the world's second-biggest economy to Europe and Africa by land and sea.

The development strategy will create some promising investment destinations, Liu Yonghao, the Chinese conglomerate's founder and chairman said, and New Hope Group plans to seek opportunities along the way.

Founded in 1982, New Hope Group spans numerous industries, including animal feed, pig breeding, dairy, meat processing and distribution. The conglomerate has formed partnerships with Mitsui & Co. and many other Japanese concerns.

Liu, 65, attended the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's parliament, as a delegate. He took time out to speak to The Nikkei about his company's future business strategy.

Q: What is your company's strategic focus?

A: New Hope Group will invest $1 billion or more abroad under a three-year plan until 2020. By doing so, New Hope Group wants to raise the percentage of its overseas sales to its total sales to 20% from 10% at present. New Hope Group will focus its overseas investments in "One Belt, One Road" countries. In addition to its core agriculture and food businesses, New Hope Group will aim to achieve growth in other businesses, such as health care.

Q: What do you think about partnering with Japanese companies?

A: New Hope Group is collaborating with [trading house] Marubeni in some of the countries covered by the belt and road. New Hope Group is considering joint investments with major trading houses in the overseas farm and food sectors. Japanese companies have advanced technological capabilities, strict management techniques and competitive products. New Hope Group, together with a Japanese company, plans to put into operation a new environment-conscious ham packaging material plant by the end of this year.

Q: Will your company expand into new business areas?

A: We are now preparing to open an online-only bank in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in April to extend loans to young people wishing to establish businesses. Conventional banks make lending decisions based on financial statements released by borrowers for the past three years. But our new bank will be able to make lending decisions quickly by, among other things, analyzing big data. We want to win about 10 million users within two to three years.

Interviewed by Nikkei staff writer Shunsuke Tabeta

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