In this episode, I speak with Weijian Shan, the chairman and CEO of PAG — a leading Asia-focused alternative investments firm with ~ $40 billion of assets under management.
Prior to PAG, Shan was a co-managing partner of TPG Asia (formerly known as Newbridge Capital).
It was a real honor to have Shan on the podcast, as his life story is remarkable.
If you haven’t read his memoir Out of the Gobi yet, I heartily encourage you to do so. It’s an extraordinary book that recounts Shan’s experiences during the Cultural Revolution — particularly the six years he spent doing hard labor in a re-education camp — and the transformative impact that the normalization of U.S.-China relations and Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms had on China generally, and on Shan in particular.
And he’s just written a new book called Money Games, which details the rescue of one of Korea’s largest banks on the heels of the Asian Financial Crisis.
I reached out to Shan after finishing Money Games because — in addition to providing one of the few narratives to detail a private equity transaction from sourcing through exit — I think his book offers tremendous insights into the art of private equity deal-making, and I wanted to explore some of the themes it raises.
In addition to his books, Shan and I discuss the importance of stakeholder analysis when structuring private equity investments; whether there is a problem of too much debt in the Chinese economy; SOE reform, and the prospects for China’s economic rebalancing toward domestic consumption; the institutionalization of private equity in Asia; and, his advice for younger people who wish to pursue a career in private equity, among other topics.
Shan’s thoughtful comments prompted me to rethink some of my own analyses and assumptions. I really enjoyed this conversation, and I hope you will, too.
This podcast was recorded in December 2020.