Two decades ago, Pan Dong was a teacher at a university in China. Today, she's one of the richest women in China, thanks to a liquid detergent. She and her husband Luo Qiuping own and operate Blue Moon Group Holdings Ltd., which sells more soap in China than Unilever and Procter & Gamble. The company's liquid soap is the most popular in China. Blue Moon's recent IPO was one of the biggest in Hong Kong this year and raised $1.3 billion for the company. Pan's 77% stake in Blue Moon is worth $8.6 billion.
About 10 years ago, Pan and her husband called Hillhouse Capital Management's Zhang Lei to tell him about the liquid detergent they'd developed. At the time, Chinese companies didn't make liquid detergent. Zhang liked what he heard. Blue Moon was a stable company with healthy profits at the time, but it was a small company. Hillhouse became Blue Moon's first outside investor. Hillhouse invested $46 million in two funding rounds. It's stake was worth $960 million at the end of the first day of trading.
It wasn't totally smooth sailing: there were losses in the beginning due to higher than anticipated costs of developing the liquid detergent. However, Blue Moon regained its profitability before 2020 began. With the coronavirus leading people to buy cleaning and disinfecting products, Blue Moon has had a very good year. The company is often called China's Procter & Gamble. The company had revenue of $909 million in 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic sent profits soaring 39% higher in the first six months of 2020.
Pan is a citizen of Hong Kong and Canada. She graduated with a master's degree in organic chemistry from Wuhan University in 1987. She worked as a teacher at another college for about a decade. She joined Blue Moon in 1994, two years after the company's first branded cleaning product hit the market.
China is one of the first counties to get the coronavirus outbreak under control. As a result, investors have been drawn to the stocks of the country's recovering consumer economy. Blue Moon's IPO was more than 300 times oversubscribed. Shares of bottled water brand Nongfu Spring Co have more than doubled since its IPO in September. Online drug store JD Health International Inc, made its IPO in early December and saw its shares rise more than 55% on the first day of trading.