Full Cup of Water - Chap 33
The reason why Su Zhong, who can offend the entire board of directors with a single word, is because he is involved in institutional reform, doing it directly without any preamble.
Firstly, he hired a new CFO to oversee the group’s finances.
Finance is a crucial position, and the board members were immediately concerned: ‘How can we entrust our financials to an outsider?’
As a family-owned business, they were particularly sensitive about finances.
Xin Qianyu supported this move, and Xin Mu naturally stood by Su Zhong’s side. Xin Mu tried to smooth things over, saying, ‘Didn’t we say this CFO would only work for a year? He’s here to help us go public, and once that’s done, he’ll leave.’
However, the relatives were still not convinced.
Xin Uncle, who liked to play the devil’s advocate, spoke first, ‘Is it really just going to be one year?’
Xin Mu hesitated, but Su Zhong spoke first, ‘Yes, it’s just one year. Besides, you wouldn’t be able to afford him for long.’
Xin Mu was silenced.
Xin Uncle was concerned about his reputation and couldn’t accept this. He slammed his hand on the table and said, ‘What do you mean? Are you looking down on us?’
Su Zhong spoke frankly, ‘We had to offer a substantial bonus to get him. The salaries your group offers wouldn’t even come close. Once the project is done, he’ll cash out and leave, without a moment’s hesitation.’
This statement was quite clear: He doesn’t really value your family, and he’s considering leaving.
Xin Mu cleared his throat and said, ‘Well, he’s certainly talented!’
Su Zhong nodded, ‘If you can find a CFO who understands how to deal with the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) better than him, I won’t object.’
The SEC is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. To go public in the U.S., you have to deal with the SEC.
So, it’s entirely reasonable for the group to hire a professional CFO for this purpose.
Su Zhong’s words made sense; to go public in the U.S., having a CFO who can interact with the SEC is essential. The old man also nodded in agreement.
Once the CFO came on board, he initiated significant reforms, leading to the dismissal of some relatives. This caused dissatisfaction within the board of directors, and opinions clashed.
However, the old man silently supported Su Zhong and the CFO’s actions, and Xin Mu assisted from the sidelines, allowing the project to move forward.
Previously, when the old man sought consulting firms for advice, the top firms were reluctant to take on the Yu Zhuo’s case. They believed that the internal affairs of Yu Zhuo were too chaotic, and the presence of relatives made the company a mess. To go public, a drastic reform was necessary, and most consultants didn’t want to get involved in such dirty work.
For someone in Su Zhong’s position to be willing to take it on was truly remarkable.
Everyone reluctantly completed some initial reform work.
However, new problems arose.
The CFO joined the board and stated during a meeting, ‘There are too many internal directors in our company. In a typical publicly traded company, internal directors should not exceed one-third of the board.’
In other words, the Yu Zhuo board had too many internal members, unlike a typical publicly traded company.
This statement ignited the anger of the board members: ‘What does this mean? This is our Xin family’s business. The board is made up of Xin family members; what’s the problem?’
‘If you’re not going public, there’s no problem,’ the CFO, a straightforward individual, replied. ‘Because with so many internal directors, the board will only serve the eldest brother (referring to the old man) and not the shareholders.’
If the previous statement had only angered the relatives on the board, this statement now enraged the old man.
‘Only serve the eldest brother’? What did that mean? Wasn’t the eldest brother him?
The old man’s temper flared, and he allowed the relatives to attack the CFO.
These directors gossiped and chatted, surrounding the CFO and shouting. It was challenging for the CFO to resist.
Seeing the situation getting out of control, Su Zhong slammed a folder onto the table.
Everyone was momentarily stunned and turned to look at Su Zhong.
Su Zhong, when he didn’t speak, had an intimidating presence, and his words were powerful. Even the gossiping directors were silenced.
The meeting room suddenly fell quiet, and Su Zhong slowly spoke, ‘This is why every consulting firm runs away and refuses to take your case. It’s because you have too many internal members, and you don’t listen to advice.’
Xin Uncle was the first to speak up in response, ‘I think you have ulterior motives! You want to take over our family’s business and swallow our company like a “great white shark”!’
Su Zhong had earned the nickname ‘great white shark,’ which Xin Uncle had recently learned about. He used this nickname to intimidate many relatives, claiming that Su Zhong appeared gentle but was actually a ruthless predator.
Facing Xin Uncle’s accusation, Su Zhong said, ‘I don’t.’
Xin Uncle sneered, ‘You say you don’t? How can you prove it?’
Su Zhong looked at him and said, ‘How do you want me to prove it?’
Seeing that Su Zhong was willing to compromise, Xin Uncle raised his chin and said, ‘Give up your shares, and I’ll believe you! Just like Xin Qianyu, only take 1%, and we’ll trust your innocence.’
Su Zhong furrowed his brow, ‘Why should I follow him?’
Hearing Su Zhong’s refusal, Xin Uncle immediately accused him, pointing and saying, ‘See, you indeed have malicious intentions!’
Su Zhong stared coldly at him and said, ‘You might have a misunderstanding about my identity. Xin Qianyu is the grandson of the chairman; I am not. I am an investor. In fact, I am your superior.’
Xin Uncle was stunned, unable to fathom Su Zhong, who appeared refined, using the phrase ‘I am your superior.’
However, Su Zhong had the demeanor to back it up. He tapped the wooden table with his slender fingers and continued, ‘If you want me to hold 1% of the shares, then I will only invest 1% of the money. If you still have objections, I will withdraw my investment.’
The group’s faces turned red, and many of them couldn’t bear it. ‘If you want to withdraw your investment, go ahead! We’re about to get rich from the IPO. Who cares about your measly money?’
Su Zhong remained expressionless in the face of their insults, only turning to look at the CFO.
The CFO stood up and said, ‘Do you all understand the financial situation of the group? Without additional capital, Yu Zhuo Group will face a cash flow crisis within three months. If you can find a way to successfully take Yu Zhuo Group public and secure financing within three months, or find an investor more generous than M-Global, then
I and Su Zhong will gladly leave. If not, please keep quiet.’
The group indeed wanted Su Zhong to leave, but with everyone’s faces red, they chose to remain silent and looked at the old man with pleading eyes.
The old man had never been so fed up with this group of incompetent relatives.
Now, the negotiation had reached an impasse. Xin Mu cleared his throat and said, ‘Let me speak fairly. I believe Su Zhong is genuinely trying to help us go public; he has no intention of taking our family’s assets.’
Everyone could only nod in agreement with these words.”
Xin’s uncle, however, remained stubborn, saying, “Is that so? I still have doubts.”
Xin Mu didn’t show a good expression towards Xin’s uncle either and sneered, “His net worth is several times yours, and he’s putting in this effort to mess with you, for the sake of what? A fool?”
Xin’s uncle was infuriated, “Haven’t you heard others call Su Zhong ‘The Great White Shark’? The Great White Shark naturally preys on fish, shrimp, and crabs with smaller net worth. Would it swallow a whale?”
Xin Mu nodded and said, “Alright, you’re right. Su Zhong is a shark. Let’s withdraw our investment in M-Global. Our group probably won’t last three months before going bankrupt. As long as we’re as poor as beggars, we won’t have to worry about others trying to seize our assets, right? What do you say?”
Xin’s uncle was fuming with anger.
However, Xin Simu also said, “Actually, I think bringing in external directors is a good thing. I’ve noticed that in most publicly traded companies, internal directors only make up one-third.”
Even Xin Simu said this, and Xin’s uncle was left speechless.
Xin Mu said, “To prove my fairness, I’ll be the first to step forward and announce that I will resign from the board of directors.”
Since Xin Mu was leaving the board and Xin Qianyu only had 1% ownership, no one had a strong position to attack this mother and son pair.
Finally, under financial pressure, the old master also agreed. They decided that the internal directors would be reduced to just the old master, Xin Qianyu, and Xin Simu. Additionally, because the law required the CFO to be a director, the CFO would also be on the board. Furthermore, there were external directors like Su Zhong and two friends invited by the old master. In essence, the board of directors still consisted mainly of the old master’s people. That way, the old master could be at ease.
Across the ocean, Xin Qianyu was still pursuing an MBA at H Business School.
The second-year MBA courses were not as intensive, but Xin Qianyu didn’t have much free time because, in addition to his studies, he had to focus on the company.
Xin Mu briefed Xin Qianyu on the progress, but Xin Qianyu’s mind was filled with images of negotiating with Su Zhong.
In Xin Qianyu’s eyes, Su Zhong should be someone completely inept at negotiation.
During their private interactions, Su Zhong hardly spoke, and if Xin Qianyu asked for something, Su Zhong would immediately agree without much fuss. Therefore, there was no negotiation or bargaining between them.
Thinking about this, Xin Qianyu lay down on the bed and gradually drifted into a dream.
There was a streetlamp in the central square downstairs in the apartment building, and Su Zhong always stood under the streetlamp waiting for him.
Xin Qianyu said, “It’s so cold here. You can wait inside the convenience store.”
Su Zhong replied, “But this is the most conspicuous place. If I don’t stand here, I’m afraid you won’t see me.”
Xin Qianyu, in a daze, didn’t know what he was doing. The next moment, he hugged Su Zhong.
Su Zhong’s embrace was warm, like a sun-drenched blanket.
But when Xin Qianyu woke up, he found himself indeed holding a sun-drenched blanket, not Su Zhong.
It turned out he had just been dreaming.
Xin Qianyu sat up from the bed, looking dazed. “Why did I dream of Su Zhong?”
It must be because he was too tired. Balancing studying, working, and worrying about Su Zhong’s lack of emotional intelligence was taking its toll.
Xin Qianyu stumbled downstairs with his eyes half-closed.
There was a streetlamp in the central square downstairs in the apartment building, and Su Zhong was standing under it, waiting for him.
Xin Qianyu saw Su Zhong’s figure and muttered unconsciously, thinking it was a dream, “Why are you here again?”
Su Zhong nodded at him.
Looking at Su Zhong, who seemed “relentless,” Xin Qianyu suddenly felt irritated. He kicked him without thinking.
Su Zhong was taken aback.
Xin Qianyu was also stunned.
The cold north wind blew on his face, and Xin Qianyu shivered, gradually waking up a bit. He realized that it wasn’t a dream.
There was a black footprint on Su Zhong’s white pants from Xin Qianyu’s kick.
But Su Zhong didn’t mind. He just said, “I’m sorry.”
Xin Qianyu was puzzled, “What are you apologizing for when you didn’t do anything wrong?”
“I don’t know,” Su Zhong said, looking somewhat aggrieved. “So why did you kick me?”
Xin Qianyu couldn’t come up with an answer.
Xin Qianyu originally wanted to ask Su Zhong why he had suddenly come.
But Xin Qianyu’s mind worked quickly, and he quickly thought that Su Zhong might say something cheesy and emotionally manipulative like “because I missed you” or “I wanted to see you.”
Xin Qianyu’s mind was muddled, but he realized the danger. He sensed that Su Zhong’s influence on him was growing.
He took a step back and made up his mind that no matter what Su Zhong said, he wouldn’t give in, and he would ruthlessly reject it.
With his determination in place, Xin Qianyu said with a straight face, “What are you here for? I’m going to the library, I don’t have time to be with you. Whatever you say won’t work. Today, I’m going to study.”
Su Zhong said, “The prospectus is ready. I came to see if there are any changes we need to make together.”
Xin Qianyu couldn’t resist anymore and reluctantly said, “Well, let’s go upstairs to discuss it then.”
Although he had made up his mind that nothing Su Zhong said would work, when it came to IPO matters, Su Zhong’s words were like royal decrees and couldn’t be ignored. It was an unavoidable situation.
As they went upstairs, Xin Qianyu muttered, “Why did you come here again? We can share information online, chat online. Why come in person?”
“Because I missed you,” Su Zhong said, “I wanted to see you.”
Xin Qianyu suddenly felt like he had been shot with an arrow from behind and his heart was pounding. Damn, I let my guard down.