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Visionary Interview Li

Visionary Interview Li Dong Sheng Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, TCL Corporation Li Dong Sheng is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of TCL Corporation. Li is one of the most recognised business leaders in China, and has set a precedent with TCL for being the first Chinese international corporation to emerge as a formidable player in the global consumer electronics industry. Under his leadership, TCL sealed two landmark deals that placed it as a key player in the global consumer electronics industry: the acquisition of Thomson’s TV business, and Alcatel’s mobile phone business. Hailed by Fortune magazine as Asia’s Businessman of the Year in 2004, he has received countless accolades and awards (too many to mention here), including the French Legion of Honour (presented by President Chirac), and even “Business Leader of the Decade” by China’s leading TV group, CCTV. Read more on @ Think Big and Dream IFA International meets one of the most Li Dong Sheng is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TCL Corporation where his mission has been to take the company worldwide and become a leading brand in the global marketplace. He spoke to Richard Barnes about the company’s successes, its philosophy, and its plans for the future. Interview by Richard Barnes There is a famous saying from Napoleon: “Those soldiers who are not willing to be a general are not good soldiers”. It’s the same logic: those business owners who don’t want to be a global player are not good business owners. Think big and dream big. It has always been my dream to promote Chinese companies worldwide and build world famous Chinese brands. That’s why the theme for our company’s 30th anniversary is “Pursuing The Dream”. As manufacturers, we used to have strong competitive advantages due to China’s cheaper labour and huge market demand. However, our country has progressed significantly in the past two decades. Labour costs in China are rising and Chinese consumers nowadays don’t settle for cheap products any more. They want the latest and best products. This means companies like us need to keep innovating and upgrading to compete with global consumer electronics manufacturers. In China, we have 1.3 billion customers, but we don’t want to ignore a potential five billion further customers. For Chinese companies, especially in the manufacturing business, going global is an inevitable choice if you want a sustainable growth. And Chinese companies going global will contribute to the upgrading of China’s national economy. I am happy that TCL is daring and ambitious enough to be one of the first Chinese companies that started making this effort more than ten years ago. We have a very clear goal, which is that we want to be a top global consumer electronics corporation that integrates resources globally, and serves customers globally. There are also some key steps not necessarily generating profit, but as a responsible company we have been paying a lot of attention to sponsoring China’s sports events, making donations to the country, to charity organisations, and supporting local Chinese schools. Li Dong Sheng Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TCL Corporation 16

Visionary Interview Big recognised business leaders in China TCL Corporation Chairman Li Dong Sheng reflects on the highlights of the past 30 years “We care about our brand and try our best to increase our brand value” This year marks the opening of your first LCD panel fab. What was behind this development? The TFT-LCD panel is the most indispensable part of a television set’s display core, representing 40% of the cost of a TV. Not being able to produce LCD panels has always been an obstacle for Chinese TV manufacturers and has affected the healthy growth of the Chinese TV industry. The launch of the 8.5 generation TFT-LCD panel fab this year will complete TCL’s vertical integration and reduce our reliance on suppliers. This will save manufacturing costs too. The total investment for this new TFT-LCD panel fab is RMB24.5bn (€2.65bn). The factory’s annual production capacity is 14 million LCD screens, ranging from 26 inches to 55 inches. This will help boost all the related upper-stream and lower-stream enterprises and contribute significantly to China’s overall consumer electronics industry. Your brand value is increasing fast through s p o n s o r s h i p a n d promotions. What is the thinking behind these marketing moves. I think branding, in general, is what most Chinese companies are weak at. In China we believe that if you have something good, you don’t need to brag about it, it will stand out anyway. But that’s not the reality in the modern competitive business world. You need to have great products, but also great marketing, especially for manufacturers of consumer products. We care about our brand and try our best to increase our brand value by providing great products, great service and also smart marketing. Sports marketing and sponsorship of key events has always been part of our long-term marketing strategy. TCL has sponsored major sports events, basketball teams, tennis, golf, cricket and soccer, plus the Asian Games. This year’s partnership with Paramount for the promotion of Transformers 3 is an innovative marketing move. The film has a lot of synergies with our new 3D smart TV and we have had good response from all major international markets. How important is IFA Berlin to your global marketing effort? I cannot emphasise IFA’s importance more. It is an international platform for us to showcase our latest products. Last year, we brought our glasses-free 3D TV and connected TVs to the show, and they were well received by industry professionals. This year we will introduce our latest smart TVs which will include voice recognition and gesture recognition. Customers will have much to play with. What is your vision for the next 30 years? Our mission is to create value for our customers, create opportunities for our employees, create benefits for our shareholders, and practice corporate social responsibility. By doing so, TCL aims to become a respected and innovative global leader. Our goal is to gain a prominent position and make TCL a household brand in TV, mobile communications, and home appliances. We are half way to the pursuit of our dream. After years of strategic transformation and development, we are in a better than ever position to reinvent the future. Hall 21 Stand 104 “We made history in China, introducing the first fixed line pushbutton phone, the first 28-inch big screen TV, the first diamond mobile phone, and the first national dual-core desktop. Key international moves include: In 1999 TCL entered Vietnam by setting up our first overseas company there. In 2000, TCL entered other Southeast Asian markets and Russia. In 2000, TCL entered Middle East, Africa, Australia and South America through OEM. In 2003, TCL was rated by Financial Times as “the most admired Chinese enterprise of 2002”. In 2004, TCL teamed with international businesses including Thomson and Alcatel. In 2005, TCL’s overseas sales exceeded domestic sales. In 2007, TCL’s brand value exceeded RMB40bn and it has maintained the No.1 position in the television sector since then. IN 2010 TCL was official partner of the Guangzhou Asian Games. In 2011 TCL ranked 25th among global top 50 consumer electronics companies, according to the CEA. In 2010, the brand value of TCL exceeded RMB45.808bn (.84bn), rising from 60th with RMB690m in 1995 to the No. 1 TV brand in China today. In 2011, TCL’s home appliance recycling factory, the first in China, was launched in Tianjin. IFA International • Saturday 3 rd & Sunday 4 th September 2011 17

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