Over the course of my business career, I have had the privilege to meet a great many people from all over the world and all walks of life who, in one way or another, have shared my experiences. As I now turn the page and begin a new chapter in my career, I am pleased to announce to my friends, colleagues and business associates the formation of JFP Holdings Ltd., a merchant bank for China.
Almost twenty years ago, I left Wall Street and moved to Hong Kong because I was convinced that Asia's development would be the story of the twenty-first century, and I wanted to play a role. Due to the demographics and high growth rates in the region, I believed that companies in Asia would have a strong wind at their back, but that they would need access to capital, management and technology to take advantage of their inherent growth opportunities.
When I worked on Wall Street, I not only learned how to raise capital, but also that capital is always available for good ideas. Over the past fifteen years, I have learned what it takes to create, build and lead a major industrial company in China, the most difficult, and yet, the most promising country of all. China has emerged as the driving force within Asia, and the country's development that I have witnessed in my time here has been nothing short of remarkable. As it has been since I moved to Beijing in 1994, China will continue to be my focus in the years ahead.
Despite the significant progress made during thirty years of economic reform, China is still in an early stage of development, and the opportunities going forward have never been greater. Major industries such as banking, financial services and health care lag the country's development in manufacturing and are in need of upgrading. New and innovative solutions must be found to pressing problems such as the environment, and China's increasing wealth is creating new opportunities in the services sector, to name but a few.
The formula for creating successful businesses and investment opportunities in China is to combine the best technology, know-how and management practices from around the world with the China market. My Wall Street experience and the time I have spent learning how to do business in China provide a unique knowledge base, set of experiences and network of contacts that are well suited to help close the technology and know-how gaps that still exist. That is the essence of what I will focus on in my second phase in China.
JFP Holdings was established in January to help global companies develop and implement their China strategies, provide infrastructure support and access to capital as required, and to assist Chinese companies to develop global footprints. We are just getting started, but we have already made significant progress. Our staff now includes a half-dozen dedicated professionals, with many others anxious to join as our business grows. We are already working with companies and organizations in some of the most promising areas for future development: environmental technology, high value-added manufacturing, services and health care.
With the world in the midst of an economic crisis, some might say that this is not an ideal time to start a new business. I believe just the opposite. As companies and investors recover from the financial turmoil of the past six months, and begin to think about how and where to grow their businesses and make investments, identifying growth opportunities will be uppermost in their minds. As one of the few, large remaining growth markets in the world, interest in China will only increase, and that is where we can add value.
ASIMCO has been a large part of my life for the past fifteen years, but the time is right for me to take what I have learned and broaden my focus. Despite the economic meltdown in the fourth quarter, ASIMCO had its best year ever in 2008 and its position within China's commercial vehicle business has never been stronger. We have developed a very capable group of Chinese managers at the company and I am confident in their ability to move the enterprise forward.
I appreciate all of the past support you have given me, and I look forward to doing business together in my new endeavor.