Li Lu

CBS is out with Issue XVIII of Graham and Doddsville, Columbia Business School’s student-led investment newsletter, co-sponsored by the Heilbrunn Center and the Columbia Student Investment Management Association. This issue features interviews with Preston Athey of T. Rowe Price Group, Li Lu of Himalaya Capital (once rumored successor to Warren Buffett), and Paul Isaac of Arbiter Partners. The publication also includes the Pershing Square Finalist pitches and photographs from the annual Omaha trek, Moon Lee Prize, and 16th Annual Columbia Student Investment Management Association Conference.

Li Lu ’96 is the founder of Himalaya Capital, an investment partnership focused on both public and private opportunities in Asia and North America. Mr. Li grew up in China and was a student leader in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Prior to founding Himalaya Capital in 1997, Mr. Li worked in investment banking. He earned his B.A. in economics from Columbia College, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.

Li Lu on his friendship with Charlie Munger

G&D: How were you able to get Charlie Munger interested in a company like BYD [a Chinese company which manufactures electric cars, batteries, electronics and solar equipment] given that Berkshire Hathaway typically shies away from technology-oriented companies?

Li Lu: I don’t think that Warren and Charlie are ideological. Neither am I. It’s really how much you know. The story of BYD is relatively simple. This guy, who is a really terrific engineer, started the business from just a $300,000 loan with no additional money until the IPO. He created a company with $8 billion in revenue and 170,000 employees and
tens of thousands of engineers. He solved a whole bunch of different problems.

So you have to admit the record is impressive. They also happen to be in the right industry and the right environment, and they get the right support from the government.

Their engineering culture consistently demonstrates its ability to tackle big, difficult problems. It works. So it’s hard not to be impressed by the record the guy has. At the time we invested, we had quite a bit of a margin of safety.

Full CBS newsletter featuring Li Lu embedded below:

Graham & Doddsville – Issue 18 – Spring 2013 Featuring Li Lu