Chairman & CEO, ChinaVest Ltd.
Robert Theleen has been a pioneer venture capitalist and investment banker in China since the late 1970s. He is the founder and CEO of ChinaVest, Ltd. Headquartered in Shanghai, the Firm is one of the premier Investment Advisory firms in China serving the corporate strategic and financial advisory requirements of its clients, in a wide range of industries. Founded in 1981 as the first institutionally-funded venture capital fund in China, ChinaVest has invested more than US$500 million in more than 50 companies in China over 3 decades.
Bob began his business as a petroleum banker for the First National Bank in Dallas, first, in being part of the Bank’s opening of a branch in Singapore in 1972, and, subsequently, when he opened the Bank’s Investment banking subsidiary in Hong Kong in 1976. In 1978, former President George H.W. Bush, joined Bob’s board of directors in Hong Kong. President Bush, having served as the US first ambassador in China, introduced Bob to China’s leaders at a time when China was beginning its economic and social transformation. ChinaVest was a pioneer in technology investments in China, such as Asia Info, which built the first internet backbone system in the Country. as well as being first investors in the earliest private sector companies in China in the early 80s. Today ChinaVest is an investment banking and strategic advisory firm focusing on cross-border M&A advisory to both US and Chinese companies, advisors to Honeywell, IBM, 3M, McDonald’s, John Deere, Rockwell Automation and many other major US and European multinationals.
He began his life in Asia as a US intelligence officer in Vietnam from 1967-69. He began his banking career at the First National Bank in Dallas, opening branches of the Bank in the 1970s in Singapore and Hong Kong. In 1980 started ChinaVest he and his wife, Jenny, and opened their first office in China in Beijing.
Among his unique accomplishments, Bob became one of the first foreigners to become a main board director of a Chinese State-owned Enterprise (SOE), Beijing Enterprises, the largest holding company in Beijing of key utilities and infrastructure for the City. Bob led the strategic restructuring of Beijing Enterprises that stands today as one of China’s national Champions.
In 2004, he was the only foreigner invited by the Chinese Government to serve as a senior member of a Chinese law-making task force, where he served for five years, to restructure a major portion of the Chinese financial industry under the auspices of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The results were the first major restructuring of China’s financial service industry. In 2016, the Shanghai Government wrote a book on “The Ten Most Influential Americans in Shanghai” of which he was one of them.
Bob was elected and re-elected as Chairman of the Board of Governors of The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, the oldest and largest AmCham in Asia, for 2013, 2014 and 2015. He has also served for 10 years as a Trustee of the Asia Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, a major development agency supported by US foreign aid to Asian countries. He is currently the Chairman of the Presidents’ Roundtable in Shanghai, whose members include the heads of more than 60 chief executives for China and Asia for major foreign multinational companies, both American and European, operating in China. He regularly appears as a television commentator, writes in various international publications and continues to serve on senior advisory committees for US and Chinese Government policy in trade and investment.
Bob currently lives and works in Shanghai with his Chinese wife, Jenny, who is President of ChinaVest. Jenny holds degrees from the University of Singapore and a Master’s Degree from the Institut d’etudes politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). In 2015, she received one of the highest awards for entrepreneurial innovation from the National Development and Reform Commission. (NDRC) of Chinese Government.