WANG SHI (pictured) is not a man who gives up easily. The chairman of Vanke, one of China’s biggest property firms, cut his teeth in the People’s Liberation Army and climbed Everest at the age of 52. When bombers attacked the Boston marathon in 2013, Mr Wang stayed at the scene and posted dispatches on social media. CCTV, China’s official broadcaster, called him its “front-line correspondent”.

This steely temperament was again evident this week, as Mr Wang gained the upper hand in his battle against a corporate raider attempting to seize control of his listed company. Baoneng, a private Chinese conglomerate, fired the first salvo last year by raising its stake in Vanke to more than 24%. That made its holding bigger than the one held by China Resources, a state-owned enterprise which has long backed the firm’s leadership, and set the stage for a takeover bid.

Declaring Yao Zhenhua, Baoneng’s boss, an unwelcome barbarian, Mr Wang asked for trading in Vanke’s shares to be suspended on December 18th and tried to organise an alternative investor to outflank Baoneng. In March he unveiled a convoluted plan to acquire properties held...Continue reading