LIU ZHONGTIAN It is called the “King of Aluminum” in Asia. His company, Zhongwang Group, is one of the largest manufacturers of aluminum products in the world. At one point, he was the wealthiest man in the rusty belt of northeastern China, where the company is based. In the United States, Liu’s reputation is different. A 57-year-old company-controlled company was convicted in late August for organizing one of the bravest tariff avoidance plans in history. Today, his empire appears to be unleashed because of domestic economic hardship, rather than in the hands of American prosecutors.
Zhongwang’s long, hollow metal rods are an important component of everything from cars to homes and bridges. They have supported China’s construction and manufacturing boom. Literally sometimes: Zhongwang won a big deal with the construction group behind the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai. The first public offering in Hong Kong in 2009 made Mr Liu one of the wealthiest industrialists in China.
Liu’s fate changed in 2019. He was indicted by the US Department of Justice (NSo oNS) To implement a scheme in which shell companies ship products subject to import duties disguised as coarsely welded aluminum pallets. Prosecutors say Liu arranged to replace these pallets, which his company had stockpiled in an American warehouse, with something else at an American melting facility. A conviction in August convicted an American company he controls for trying to avoid a $ 1.8 billion tariff. The sentence scheduled for December is NSo oNS To chase the American assets of the Middle King. A few days after the ruling Zhongwang frozen trading shares in Hong Kong, it seemingly waited for a delay in the announcement of its first half 2021 results.
Indeed, it all debilitates. But it’s probably not deadly. The company continues to be the world’s second largest aluminum extruder with a vast domestic market. Disclosure delays are common in Hong Kong and NSo oNS case.And the Chinese government is fighting with the United States over trade and geopolitics, but the Chinese king NSo oNSLawyer.
Then, on October 15, the company revealed that two important Chinese subsidiaries were facing serious difficulties “due to significant losses.” Analysts believe that without relief, Liu’s group could collapse. The company gives little explanation. However, like many Chinese companies, it is paralyzed by power outages, and by the end of the year the country’s industry could fall 5-10% below normal capacity. To prevent power outages, investment bank Jeffreys Johnson Wang said local governments allow some energy-intensive manufacturers to operate only 10 days a month.
Since aluminum extrusion requires a lot of energy, power outages and soaring power costs have hit Chuo. The company, which sold its smelter business in 2020, is facing a surge in aluminum as other smelters are raising prices to offset rising bills amid metal shortages. Liaoning’s hometown, Liaoning, is preparing for the harsh cold winters, and manufacturers are facing further turmoil as coal is burned to warm homes rather than produce industrial electricity. For Mr. Liu, escaping the clutch of American law must feel like a cool comfort. ■■
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This article was published in the printed Business section under the heading “Waiting for electrocution.”
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