On-The-Ground in China: Baird’s Perspective on Wuhan

November 29, 2011
Huaming Gu, Partner with Baird Capital Partners Asia (BCPA), recently spent two days in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province in China. Following are his observations regarding infrastructure growth in the city and what he sees as parallels to China’s overall potential.

“Wuhan is a tier two or three city depending on how you look at it. With about 10 million people, it used to be one of the top five cities in China with a heavy industrial base. Located in the central part of the country, it has lagged many coastal cities in development over the last 20-plus years. On my way to the hotel Wednesday night from the airport (which is about 50 miles outside of the city), I could not see anything within 20 meters out, not because of the darkness, but the dust and smog.

The next day when I was talking to a local friend, he told me that the city has more than 5,000 construction projects going on at the same time and the local newspaper says that the government is spending over 240 billion RMB by 2015 on transportation related infrastructure. They are digging the whole city up to build underground subways and overpass highways in and out of the city towards the surrounding areas. The roads are crowded with cars and traffic. It was so dusty that my shoes were yellowish from the short walk from my meetings to the hotel.

However, it reminded me of Shanghai in the early 90’s when the city was undertaking massive infrastructure projects. It certainly is painful for the city and the people living here now with the dust, pollution and road construction, etc. But like Shanghai and other cities, once the construction is done in a few years, it will transform the whole city and surrounding areas. As much as I hate the dust and pollution, I can’t help but feel excited about this and all the other cities in China that are going through this development phase. Staying in cities such as Shanghai and Beijing so long, we almost forget the rest of underdeveloped China. Under the layers of dust, I see the energy of the place and the potential of China and its long term economic prospects. Nothing is slowing down in cities like Wuhan and that I think is going to drive the economic development for years to come in China. The potential is massive.” Baird Capital Partners Asia (BCPA) is the China-based growth equity fund of Baird Private Equity. In June 2011, BCPA invested in Wuhan Kindstar Diagnostics Co., Ltd. (Kindstar), the leading specialty clinical testing service provider in China.