Jailed Chinese tycoon bids for British aircraft carrier

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

China's former richest man, who is serving a 14-year jail sentence for bribery and insider trading, is bidding for a decommissioned British Royal Navy aircraft carrier, his company said Tuesday.

Disgraced tycoon Huang Guangyu plans to turn the HMS Ark Royal into an exhibition centre for luxury items.

Hong Kong-based Eagle Vantage Asset Management bid on Huang's behalf, describing him as "the ultimate beneficiary of the company".

"Our initial plan is to transform it into a huge mobile exhibition hall, showing upscale appliances and other luxury products and high-end services," Zhao Qiguang, the Eagle executive in charge of the bid, told AFP.

"We hope we can moor off the coast of Hong Kong or Macau," he added, declining to say what the size of the bid was.

The winning bid will be announced this month.

Britain decided to sell off the HMS Ark Royal after 25 years of service as part of its efforts to slash its defence budget and invited bids for the ship.

Huang, a high school drop-out who founded China's GOME appliance chain, was named China's richest man with an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion by the Hurun Report in October 2008.

But he was detained a month later and a year ago was jailed, marking a spectacular fall from grace in a case that also ensnared several top Chinese police officials.

The aircraft carrier is not the first time that Huang has made waves from behind bars.

Last year, he waged a high-profile war from his cell against company executives, failing in his bid to install his sister and lawyer on GOME's board and to sack the then chairman Chen Xiao.

© 2011 AFP

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