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10 Things You Didn't Know about Westlake Chemical CEO Albert Chao

Albert Chao Westlake Chemical

Albert Chao is the current CEO of Westlake Chemical. Said corporation is a name of note when it comes to chemicals and petrochemicals in the United States, meaning that Chao possesses considerable influence in those sectors. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about Albert Chao:

1. Son of T.T. Chao

Chao is the son of T.T. Chao, whose full name was Ting Tsung Chao. This is important because T.T. Chao was a successful businessman in Taiwan who went on to found Westlake Chemical in the United States plus a couple of other companies in a couple of other countries. For those who are curious, one of those would be Titans Chemical in Malaysia and the other would be Suzhou Huasu Plastics in China.

2. Brother of James Chao

It isn't uncommon for CEOs to hold the position of Chairman as well. However, that isn't the case for Chao because said position is held by his brother James Chao. In 1996, James Chao became the Vice Chairman and remained in said position until 2004, which was when he climbed up a rank to become the Chairman.

3. Born and Raised in Taiwan

Chao's father moved the Chao family to Taiwan in 1946. As a result, Chao was born there in 1949. It is interesting to note that 1949 was when the Chinese Nationalists relocated their government to the island of Taiwan because of their losses on the mainland, with the result that about two million people, much of the Chinese reserves of both gold and foreign currencies, plus a considerable number of China's national treasures were moved there. The Chinese Nationalists instituted martial law in May of 1949, thus kicking off the period called the White Terror that saw brutal suppression of anything that could be interpreted as either anti-Nationalist or pro-Communist sentiment.

4. Moved to the United States in the 1980s

It wasn't until the mid 1980s that the Chao family moved to the United States. By that point, the Chao family was already in control of a plastics and petrochemicals conglomerate called the Chao Group, which had business partnerships with a number of companies that were well-known and remain well-known in the United States. For instance, said conglomerate is said to have partnered with Mattel to produce the first Barbie dolls in 1966.

5. Co-Founded Westlake Chemical

As such, Chao was in a position to co-found Westlake Chemical with his father and his brother. Moreover, he has been involved with the corporation's management in various roles long before he managed to reach the position of CEO. For instance, he started out as an Executive Vice President before rising to the position of President in 1996 and then the positions of both President and CEO in 2004.

6. Director of Suzhou Huasu Plastics

Speaking of which, Chao remains involved in Suzhou Huasu Plastics, which is one of the other companies founded by the Chao family. Like its states, Suzhou Huasu Plastics is situated in Suzhou, which is one of the most prosperous Chinese cities in present times. However, it should be mentioned that Suzhou can trace its roots to 514 BCE, meaning that it can trace its roots to the Spring and Autumn period when imperial China was still coming into existence. As for why the Chao family chose Suzhou for what would become Suzhou Huasu Plastics in 1993, it seems probable that it is connected to how Chao's father came from the city before he moved his family to Taiwan.

7. Went to Brandeis University

For his bachelor's degree, Chao went to Brandeis University, which can be found in Waltham, MA. Said school is named for Louis Brandeis, who can claim the honor of being the first Jewish person to serve as a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. As for the reason that the school is named for him, it should be mentioned that it was founded with Jewish support as a kind of successor to Middlesex University, which was the one medical school in the United States in those times that had no quota on the number of Jewish students that could be admitted.

8. Went to Columbia University

Besides Brandeis University, Chao went to Columbia University for his MBA. Chances are good that most people will have heard of Columbia University to some extent, seeing as how it is considered to be one of the best schools and thus one of the most famous schools in not just the United States but the world as a whole. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that Columbia University can claim a number of incredible scientific firsts that range from the brain-computer interface to the first evidence for plate tectonics.

9. Carried Out a Hostile Takeover of Axiall

In 2016, Chao carried out a hostile takeover of a competitor named Axiall. The executives of Axiall were less than enthusiastic about the offer, but the shareholders of Axiall became receptive once Chao had raised the offer so much that there was a 28 percent premium, thus resulting in his success in this regard.

10. The Hostile Takeover Was Treated with Skepticism

The hostile takeover happened while Westlake Chemical's own stock price was slipping. However, it is interesting to note that the stock market was pretty skeptical at the time about the wisdom of the hostile takeover, with a significant number of shareholders and other stakeholders believing that Chao might have overpaid. Now, there can be no doubt about the wisdom of the hostile takeover, seeing as how it contributed to close to a 60 percent jump in annual revenue in 2017 plus other strong performance indicators. As such, Westlake Chemical's stock price saw a similar surge in the same period of time following the initial fall.

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Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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