Lao Niu Philanthropy: The first stock donor in the world

DATA:2021-12-15  Views:3


In this era, we need a Lao Niu who is serious about charity and a Lao Niu Foundation that can set an example for charity.  

 The author | Huan Huan

Product | the bullet of finance and economics  


Not long ago, Niu Gensheng resigned his last position in Mengniu, a veteran of the dairy industry formally withdrew from the Mengniu Dairy founded.  However, this does not mean that he is "resting", but more focused on doing the charity work he has always insisted on.  Mr. Niu has long been away from the dairy world since stepping down as chairman in 2011 and remaining a non-executive director, focusing in recent years on his philanthropic work.  


Perhaps because Niu Gensheng's experience in The Chinese dairy industry is too legendary, the history of dairy industry wrote every brush is too thick and heavy color, about Lao Niu in the dairy industry "most of the life", which set off a large discussion in the whole network.  


Charity is the second half of Niu gensheng's life theme


A lot of "market noise" think, niu Gensheng cashed 12 billion, retirement days must be very comfortable.  But according to "bullet finance" understanding, Niu Gensheng not only did not cash 12 billion, but all his hands of all the shares donated to the Lao Niu Foundation.  


As early as 2003, Niu Gensheng, then chairman and president of Mengniu Group, discussed with his team members donating his shares when Mengniu listed.  


On June 10, 2004, Mengniu was listed in Hong Kong.  In the same year, Niu Gensheng founded the "Inner Mongolia Lao Niu Public Welfare Development and Promotion Association", which is a community organization.  In the same year, the Regulations on the Management of Foundations were issued.  However, Niu Gensheng began to operate the establishment of the foundation, the regulations have not been issued, after consulting relevant departments and lawyers and other opinions, the public welfare development and promotion association was established.  

In 2005, Niu Gensheng announced that he would donate all his shares of Mengniu to the Lao Niu Foundation (formerly Inner Mongolia Lao Niu Public Welfare Development and Promotion Association).  


Bullet Finance found that Mengniu listed on June 10, 2004. At the beginning of the listing, Niu Gensheng's domestic and foreign shares were translated into a total market value of about HK $1 billion.  In accordance with the Company Law, its domestic part was donated to Lao Niu Foundation at an annual proportion of 25%, which was completed in July 2010, and then it has managed by professional asset management companies.  Niu Gensheng in the hands of mengniu company equity overseas part, has been transferred to Hengxin trust on December 28, 2010, and Hengxin trust for an irrevocable trust, and the recipients included the Lao Niu Foundation and its cooperation with the charity federation, the Red Cross and other charitable organizations.  


As Mengniu's performance improved and its stock market value increased, the Lao Niu Foundation controlled, managed and benefited from more than 4 billion yuan in charitable assets.  


Niu Gensheng said in an interview in his early years that the shares he owned were just a number, "I may never spend, may never dare to cash in the stock, because it has a great impact on the stock price of the enterprise.  Why should I let that number tie me up forever?"  In Niu Gensheng's life planning, the first half of the business, “bring success for oneself in the first half of one’s life, and bring it to others in the second half”.


At the beginning of the establishment of the Lao Niu Foundation, Niu Gensheng expected the Lao Niu Foundation to have continuous cash flow for charity, and the Foundation has been exploring the proposition of "how to maintain and increase the value of public welfare assets". Therefore, before the equity was cashed out, in order to obtain funds, Lao Niu Foundation pledged 4.5% equity of Mengniu Dairy to Morgan Stanley for financing. In this way, the Lao Niu Foundation will invest the money raised and then use it for charity. And according to Niu Gensheng's original plan, he planned to retire from Mengniu management at the age of 50, namely in 2008, to devote himself to philanthropy.


But "melamine" this industry event, disrupted Niu Gensheng's plan, because Mengniu was implicated in the "melamine" industry event, losses of 949 million yuan, the stock price plunged, pledged to Morgan Stanley equity is also in jeopardy. In order to prevent Mengniu from being taken over by foreign institutions, Lao Niu's friends have moved to replace Mengniu's equity pledged in banks.


In 2009, CoFCO and Hopu invested more than HK $6.1 billion to become the largest shareholder of Mengniu dairy with a 20% stake. Mengniu has since become the Chinese people's Own Mengniu. After coFCO took over, Niu Gensheng was relieved to retire to the second line, gradually reducing the daily operation and management of Mengniu Dairy, and put his main energy into charity.


In the business world, there are a lot of entrepreneurs who did charity, but there are not many entrepreneurs who devote totally in the charity. Buffett announced that he would donate all his Berkshire shares, which was praised by the industry.  Lao Niu is the first Chinese entrepreneur, and so far the only one, to donate all his shares, so Niu gensheng is called the world's first share donor.  


Tough Lao Niu: "wealth scattered people gather" is the core concept


As a donation of all the shares of entrepreneurs, Niu Gensheng whether doing business or charity, are very "direct", said to donate shares to donate shares, said to do things, and even with "a spittle a nail" forbearing.  But the man from the northwest never explained any of the minor incidents himself.  


Remember there was a misinformation in the market before the melamine incident when Lao Niu shed tears to everyone for help, but "bullet finance" learned that the tough style of Niu Gensheng, in fact, only cried once.  


In 2004, someone poisoned Mengniu products and sent anonymous threatening letters for blackmail. After failing, Mengniu milk containing formaldehyde incidents occurred in Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong and other places. Later, relevant government departments found out the truth and Mengniu was cleared.  Lao Niu shed tears with mixed feelings.


As well as the "hit billboard event" when Mengniu started, some people said that Mengniu street billboards were hit, hit their own fire, which belongs to the "event marketing".  


We go back to rational thinking, if Lao Niu hit his own billboard, is it really necessary?  In the present mobile Internet era, it is really possible to hit a billboard on the hot news, through the event marketing.  But in the years when Mengniu was rumoured to have smashed the billboard, the Internet was not widely available, and even if the billboard was smashed, it would only get local news, which didn't really help Mengniu's business.  


More importantly, mengniu, which was just established at that time, was short of funds and had no capital to do such a "game".  And "Bullet Finance" learned that the "involved" in both sides of the people, really want to solve this "mystery case", rather than their own speculation, it is better to find those involved in the past.  


Although there are many anecdotes circulating on Lao Niu, Niu Gensheng's belief in the classic philosophy of "wealth gathers and disperses, wealth disperses and people gather" is true.


Niu Gensheng was often bullied by classmates when he was a child, he could only think of the way is to take pocket money to spend, so get everyone's support, slowly became "king of children". Later in Yili, Niu Gensheng made the management spend most of their salary to help subordinates and care about people around them. During his tenure at Mengniu, he distributed 80% of his annual salary to employees, partners in the industrial chain and people in need.  


So when Niu Gensheng left his old employer, Deng Jiuqiang, Lu Jun, Yang wenjun, Sun Xianhong etc. Nine out of Yili employee accompany at his side, in a rented a 53 square meters start a business in residential buildings, there are many subordinate , and they all came to Mengniu, gradually gathered around Niu Gensheng, and under the joint efforts of everyone,  Mengniu in the dairy industry erupted in the "rocket speed" of growth.  


Model Lao Niu: Charity is building Bridges


Looking back at the history of philanthropy among Chinese entrepreneurs, Rong Desheng,in the age of 50, became the richest man in China in the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, his company produced half of the flour eaten by the Chinese people. However, rong Desheng was a keen bridge builder. For his 50th birthday, he built a bridge with 50 holes in it in his hometown of Wuxi.  


Many years later, Rong Desheng did not want to celebrate the birthday, but there were still a lot of people to congratulate the gift, the Rong family had to rule that in addition to painting, life screen, birthday curtain, birthday axis, all the money, Rong Desheng allocated to the "100 bridge", specially used for the construction of the bridge.  


Rong desheng and his fellow historian Qian Mu said in a home talk: "Maybe after many years, my flour and cotton factories will disappear, but the bridge may still exist."  


Rong Desheng is right. In 2021, the bridge he built 80 years ago is still in use.  Therefore, charity is a process of building Bridges to benefit the future generations.  


For Niu Gensheng, the meaning of philanthropy is to build three Bridges in the 21st century that can still be used in the 22nd century.  


The first bridge is the bridge of talents.  For more than a decade, The Lao Niu Foundation has donated to build schools, improve education infrastructure and improve school conditions in many poor areas, so that children in poor areas can enjoy equal educational resources.  


The second bridge is the bridge of the industry.  Lao Niu Foundation is also promoting the development of China's charity industry.  


From funds to models, the Lao Niu Foundation has injected all kinds of resources into public welfare organizations, bringing industry promotion into the scope of charity support. Up to now, more than 70 projects have been carried out in this area, with a public expenditure of nearly 380 million yuan. It has also directly trained nearly 3,500 public service personnel; The Lao Niu Foundation has incubated 12 institutions and built nine platforms.


The third bridge is the bridge of cooperation. Up to now, Lao Niu Foundation has cooperated with 184 institutions and organizations and carried out 267 public welfare and charity projects, committed to promoting industry exchanges and incubation.  


I remember that in 2015, Lao Niu Foundation, together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other four public welfare organizations, initiated the establishment of Global International Philanthropy Institute. By October 2021, the institute had 6,011 students and alumni, and 1,397 students and alumni of its core teaching programs.  It covers 31 provinces (municipalities directly under the Central Government, autonomous regions) and Hong Kong, China, as well as 20 foreign countries and regions; The number of direct and indirect beneficiaries reached nearly 80,000.  


Lao Niu Foundation is certainly the first modern family foundation in China, but it emphasizes that the ultimate goal of "foundation" is not "family", "family" only means a way of funding.  Niu Gensheng once said, "There are many ways to do charity in China, but the goal is always clear: common happiness."  


Words in the end

Looking back on Niu Gensheng's past, at the beginning, he worked in Daheihe Dairy Factory, a state-owned pasture, and then he entered the state-owned Hui People Milk and Food General Factory (yili predecessor). Step by step, he gradually rose from an ordinary worker to vice monitor, deputy director of the workshop, director of the branch factory and vice president of production and operation. He worked in the state-owned Yili for 16 years. Later, Niu Gensheng was removed from office to leave the state-run Yili, founded private enterprises Mengniu, make Mengniu development and growth, scale once more than the old employer; A decade later he handed control of Mengniu to COFCO, effectively handing the company back to the state.  


Now he is retired, and finally he can devote himself to the charity cause which is more meaningful to the society. Although he is no longer in the rivers and lakes, his deeds will always appear in the courseware of management and marketing.  


Throughout the business history of more than 2000 years in China, in fact, there is no lack of an entrepreneur Niu Gensheng in every era. But in this era, we need a Lao Niu who is serious about charity, and a foundation that can set an example for charity.