A long-serving senior executive of China state-owned conglomerate China Resources Group has been appointed chief executive officer of Harvest Capital Partners, the Hong Kong-based private equity real estate firm it controls.
Just over one month after Harvest founder and former Rong Ren resigned from the role, Harvest named Jiang Wei as the new incumbent in a newsletter published this week.
Jiang was originally installed as interim chief executive officer, according to a statement released by Harvest days after Ren’s resignation. Ren resigned following a difference of opinion with China Resources Group regarding its strategy to expand Harvest’s original real estate focus to that of a broader, multi-sector private equity firm.
But according to the newsletter Jiang has taken “over the reins as the company moves forward with its expansion strategy”. Harvest Capital declined to comment when asked for further details about Wei’s remit going forward.
However, the newsletter carried an interview with Jiang in which he said he would focus on “developing our expansion strategy” and would be “putting more emphasis on communication with our investors as we move forward with our plan.”
Of early importance to Wei is a vote by the investors in Harvest’s only currently live investment fund, CR China Retail Real Estate Development Fund I, which attracted $466 million of equity and is focused on a series of retail developments across mainland China. By May there was approximately $210 million left uncalled and the fund’s investors were expected to vote this month on whether Harvest could continue deploying the funds.
Harvest suffered a number of departures following Ren’s resignation. It is understood that, including Ren, 10 of the firm’s 36 staff left within the week though these positions have been refilled with staff from within China Resources, except for Harvest’s capital’s four-strong capital raising team. That function, when required, is expected to be outsourced.
In the newsletter Jiang said: “There is always some readjustment when employees leave the firm. Thankfully, the impact has been minimal and we have been operating day to day as normal. In line with our strategy, we have restructured and enhanced the team so that while creating even greater value to our real estate fund investors, we can focus on delivering a wider range of products and opportunities to out investors.”
Jiang has held a number of senior positions at China Resources Group. These include: chairman of China Resources Capital, the financial arm of China Resources and director, vice-president and chief financial officer as well as chairman of another property subsidiary SZITIC Commercial Property. He was also previously vice-chairman of Harvest itself.
According to one CEO of a rival private equity real estate firm who would not be named, China Resources’ search for a replacement for Ren was never likely to extend outside of the conglomerate. He said the role would have been an “impossible” job for someone outside as it would require leveraging resources from businesses within it. He said: “It’s probably a wise appointment as [Jiang] knows the history, investors, China Resources and its politics.”