Cai Xiangyang, the investment star who beat China’s stock market with his bets on baijiu distillers, dies suddenly at 41

·3-min read

A well-known veteran money manager at China Asset Management, one of the country’s biggest mutual-fund firms, has died at the age of 41.

Cai Xiangyang, who managed 10 funds with a combined US$7.8 billion in assets, died on Monday in Beijing, China Asset said in a statement, without giving more details. Cai won six industry awards for stock investments during his 14-year stint at the firm, and the dividends issued by his funds totalled 14.2 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion), it said.

Cai was known to investors for his love of baijiu liquor distillers, hailing the big players as the best bets on China’s stock market because of their strong branding and constant gains in market share. His flagship US$2.3 billion China AMC Return Securities Investment Fund delivered an annualised return of 14 per cent over the past five years, trouncing most of his rivals, according to Bloomberg data.

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“The board, the management and all the staff express deep condolences on Cai’s passing away,” China Asset said in its statement. “During his 14-year service for the company, his love for the investment cause and his outstanding capabilities have contributed to the improvement of the investment and research system at China Asset.”

Cai joined China Asset in 2007 after graduating from China Agricultural University with a master’s degree in finance. He first worked as an analyst and an assistant fund manager before being promoted to money manager in 2014, according to the statement.

Even as liquor stocks have had a turbulent year in 2021 because of slowing sales and stretched valuations, Cai stuck to his guns. His China AMC Return Fund was overweight on alcohol stocks by the end of last quarter.

Kweichow Moutai was the fund’s biggest holding with an almost 9 per cent weighting, according to the fund’s quarterly report. Smaller rivals Wuliangye Yibin and Jiangsu Yanghe Brewery Joint-Stock were also among the top 10 holdings.

The 10 funds managed by Cai have all posted negative returns so far this year. The flagship China AMC Return Fund has been the best performer with a 13 per cent drop in net asset value, Bloomberg data showed.

Beijing-based China Asset started out in 1998 as one of the first mutual-fund firms approved by the stock market regulator. It has 953 billion yuan in assets under management, according to fund tracker howbuy.

China Asset rose to fame among fundholders for its star fund manager Wang Yawei, who was lionised as China’s answer to Warren Buffett. Wang left the company in 2012 to start a hedge fund in Shenzhen.

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