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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Chinese beer giant prospers
Tsingtao logo
Tsingtao was the first Chinese firm to list in Hong Kong
The firm behind one of China's best known exports, Tsingtao beer, has unveiled a surge in sales and profits.

Tsingtao Brewery is China's biggest beer producer and one of the few firms to have achieved global brand recognition.

In the first half of the year, Tsingtao's profits rose by an annual 38%, to 68.9m yuan (5.7m; $8.3m). Sales nearly doubled to 2.4bn yuan.

The financial results will help to erase some of the uncertainty that has hung over the firm since Peng Zuoyi, its charismatic chief executive, died while swimming in the sea last month.

To replace Mr Peng, the firm promoted Jin Zhiguo, head of its operations in the northern city of Xian, to chief executive.

Crisis management

Mr Peng was seen as the force behind the brewery's rapid expansion in the second half of the 1990s, when it acquired a string of companies within China, and pushed its brand in the export market.

The company moved quickly to reassure investors it would stick with the strategy outlined by Mr Peng.

Shortly before his death, he announced an acquisitions drive, with the aim of buying a brewery in the capital of every Chinese province.

Tsingtao and its nearest rival Beijing Yanjing are facing pressure for market share from the rapid expansion of Huarun, a market newcomer backed by Hong Kong Huarun Group.

Brand builders

Although many Chinese companies have prospered in recent years, Tsingtao was seen as an unusual corporate success story.

It is one of the few Chinese firms to have concentrated on building a consumer brand, both inside and outside the country.

It currently owns 45 beer makers in China.

Tsingtao was founded by German investors in 1903 in the north-eastern port of Qingdao and later became the first Chinese firm to list its shares in Hong Kong.

China's 500 beer producers brewed 22.3 million tons of beer in 2000, according to the official China Daily newspaper.

The two top brands, Tsingtao and Beijing Yanjing, accounted for 10% of total sales.

See also:

17 Jul 01 | Business
China's economy booms
18 Apr 01 | Business
China beats growth forecasts
16 Jul 01 | Business
China WTO talks face final issue
14 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Beijing revels in Olympics victory
13 Jul 01 | Business
Beijing win is big business
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