Steering her ship towards open waters of opportunity

Rui Hua Chang wins at the HKB Management Excellence Awards 2022.

ESR Group’s Hong Kong office serves as their company headquarters and is served mainly with group-level middle and back-room functions. With Rui Hua Chang, Group Managing Director, Head of Capital Markets and Investor Relations at the helm, the company dipped their toes into New Economy assets such as logistics and data centres and fund management business in Hong Kong, proving its capability to identify areas of opportunities and its ability to execute roadmaps for the Group’s overall growth.

Through her expertise and outstanding performance and transformation of ESR Hong Kong with operating assets, Rui Hua claimed the  Executive of the Year - Logistics Award at the HKB Management Excellence Awards 2022.

With the company’s focus mainly resting on the China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia markets, investing in assets in Hong Kong needed Rui Hua to leverage ESR’s deal-sourcing experiences and detailed financial analysis for the potential projects with the local team. The opportunity identified by Rui Hua emerged in the form of rejuvenating existing logistics projects in Hong Kong that are at least 20 years old and the lack of new cold storage for the past 30 years.

Focusing on specific projects in Kwai Chung which was one of the best locations for logistics in Hong Kong, Rui Hua built a sound investment case with her fundraising and investment banking experience. As ESR Group prioritises general inclusion and diversity as part of its DNA, she was able to break the glass ceiling and drive two meaningful New Economy projects in Kwai Chung. 

Stemming from a vision to help raise the overall standards of Hong Kong’s ageing logistics and industrial assets, Rui Hua led the purchase of the company’s first operational asset in Hong Kong with the purchase Brilliant Cold Storage 2 in May 2021 at $1.8b Within a short period of time, Rui Hua and team were able to facilitate the conversion by successfully applying for electricity from CLP and obtaining Section 16 approval to convert the asset into a 26MW data centre. 

Rui Hua also had the opportunity to expand ESR Group’s logistics footprint and market share in Hong Kong. Given that the last Hong Kong government public logistics land bid was almost four years ago, it was a rare chance when the Tsing Yi land tender surfaced in March 2022, but due to covid disruptions, the bid was withdrawn. 

Rui Hua’s leadership shone through with her persistence and she quickly regrouped the professional team to prepare for the tendering of a replacement site -  Kwai Chung logistic land bid which was announced in May 2022. Applying exceptional vision and comprehensive due diligence of the Hong Kong market, it was the first time the ESR Group put in a bid and won the Kwai Chung logistics land at HK$5.2b on the 20th of July, giving the company ample land to build and bring to reality a  modern, state-of-the-art cold storage logistics facilities which Hong Kong has not seen for more than 20 years.

On the fund management side of the business, Rui Hua drove the setting up of the Type 9 asset management entity for Hong Kong (ESR Hong Kong Asset Management Limited) and assumed the leadership role of the Executive Director and Responsible Officer. She successfully obtained the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) approval by August 2022 and subsequently set up a fund together with one of Hong Kong’s leading developers Chinachem Group Limited to develop and manage the Kwai Chung logistics land bought in July 2022 (estimated AUM of approximately HK$12b or US$1.5b). Going forward, Rui Hua is looking to leverage her past fundraising experience to raise more funds in Hong Kong. 

In conclusion, ESR Group shaped Rui Hua into a leader by embracing inclusion and diversity, and in turn, she “pays in forward” by empowering her team to grow the business. 

The HKB Management Excellence Awards is presented by Hong Kong Business Magazine. To view the full list of winners, click here. If you want to join the 2023 awards programme and be acclaimed for your company's employee engagements and management initiatives, please contact Danica Avila at [email protected].

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