New Haven, Conn. - Yale President Richard C. Levin PhD '74 announced on January 4, 2010, that Lei Zhang MBA '02, GRD '02 has pledged the largest gift ever to the Yale School of Management by a graduate of the school. Zhang's pledge, made less than 10 years after his graduation from Yale, also represents the largest gift to date from a young Yale University alumnus. Zhang, the founder and managing partner of Hillhouse Capital Management, will give $8,888,888 to help build Yale SOM's new campus.
(Media-Newswire.com) - New Haven, Conn. ó Yale President Richard C. Levin PhD '74 announced on January 4, 2010, that Lei Zhang MBA '02, GRD '02 has pledged the largest gift ever to the Yale School of Management by a graduate of the school. Zhang's pledge, made less than 10 years after his graduation from Yale, also represents the largest gift to date from a young Yale University alumnus. Zhang, the founder and managing partner of Hillhouse Capital Management, will give $8,888,888 to help build Yale SOMís new campus. The announcement came at a special event co-hosted by Levin and Yale School of Management Dean Sharon M. Oster at the Westin Beijing Chaoyang, which included a panel discussion between several prominent SOM alumni called "Investing in the Middle Kingdom."
The panel discussion, moderated by Levin, included Lei Zhang, as well as Brad Huang '90, founder and president, Lotus Capital Management; David Li '94, managing director, E.M. Warburg Pincus & Co.; Liang Meng '97, CEO Greater China Private Equity, D.E. Shaw & Co. Ltd; and Kevin Zhang '94, managing partner, Trustbridge Partners Ltd.
In announcing the gift, President Levin commented, "This truly extraordinary and auspicious gift reflects the deep commitment to Yale that Lei Zhang shares with so many fellow graduates of the School of Management. Leiís generosity also represents a significant step toward the realization of SOMís new campus."
Dean Oster added, "Iím delighted to be here in Beijing with so many of our former students, including Lei. His devotion to SOM is remarkable, and the entire SOM community joins me in thanking him for his wonderful support. We look forward to the construction of the auditorium in the new campus that will bear Lei Zhangís name."
Zhang, a member of the SOM Board of Advisors and China Board of Advisors, started Hillhouse Capital Management in 2005 and rapidly built the largest independent fund in China. While at SOM, he worked for David Swensen at the Yale Investments Office. He translated Swensenís Pioneering Portfolio Management into Chinese, a task that required him to create Chinese words for "fiduciary" and "endowment." When he moved back to China, with an initial investment from the Yale endowment, he opened Hillhouse Capital Management with $30 million under management. Zhang has made impressive returns and attracted numerous new investors; he now has $2.5 billion under management.
Zhang chose to make his gift $8,888,888 because of the significance of the number eight in Chinese culture. Throughout China, eight is considered lucky. The Chinese word for "eight" sounds similar to those for "wealth" and "fortune."
Zhang, raised in Central China, placed first out of 100,000 students in his province for the national university entrance exam. He studied international finance at the Peopleís University of China and chose Yale to earn his MBA and a masterís degree in international relations. Zhang has said that Yale changed his life. He named both his company and a foundation for Hillhouse Avenue, the New Haven street that runs through the SOM campus.
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