The Chinese Business Club, in the firmament of prestige

Masterfully led by Harold Parisot, the Chinese Business Club is eager to be a true matchmaker between Chinese and French business circles and can be proud to have won this ambitious bet with ease just four years after its inception.

“A haunting story. Four years ago, when I founded the club which was just the beginning, my ambition was to start a small informal networking club. Today it is an essential hub for decision-makers on both sides.” With eyes that sparkle with pride, Harold Parisot rightly does not hide a certain satisfaction, he who has achieved what no one had the “presence of spirit” to imagine before him: the creation of a real platform for exchanges and business relations between Chinese decision-makers and the driving forces of the French economy. A “premium” club where the leaders of the two countries can “do business” in total freedom and in complete relaxation under the gold of the most beautiful palaces in the capital, from the peninsula to the Shangri-La via the Intercontinental hotel. “Chinese love everything that glitters”underlines, mischievous, Harold Parisot who refined and chiseled this project in direct line with its primary activity: off-market luxury real estate.

Prestige as Cardinal Virtue

Harold Parisot caters to a clientele of wealthy foreigners from the Middle East, Russia – even if Russian clients are now rarer – mainland China and Hong Kong who want to invest discreetly in real estate, finds that his Asian clientele is resolutely eager. to meet and discuss the French decision-makers. “Basically, they wanted to meet officials, business leaders and even journalists,” he abounds. Believing that there is an opportunity to seize, the dashing forties, cultivating a certain discretion inherent in his profession, is nevertheless a formidable man of networking. “I talked about it around me, especially with Laurent Dassault, and in September 2012, the Chinese Business Club was officially born in the Polo Club of France”, Harold Parisot recalls. At the end of the summer, only about fifty people responded to the invitation. But little by little, the club will build a reputation that extends beyond the French borders, which have already become too narrow.

Falcons sold during lunch

A first attempt that will turn into a masterstroke. With networks expertly spread across the capital – from Parisian palaces to tourist guides and the Chinese embassy – more and more Chinese or Hong Kong economic or political leaders are not leaving Paris without a stop at the “club”. Dongfeng – which saved Peugeot from bankruptcy -, the investment fund Fosun that certainly did the same with Club Med, and the top ambassadors of “Chinese Tech” such as Huawei and Lenovo are having their “towel round”. In the same way as French members such as AccorHotels, Bouygues, Dassault Aviation or Richemont who will soon have to pay 9,500 euros a year (compared to 7,500 euros so far) to attend about ten events a year.

A cost, albeit insignificant for the above-mentioned large groups, but certainly not negligible for start-ups and other SMEs that are also members. But the reaction of the ‘master of ceremonies’ is relentless. “100% of members have renewed their membership for four years”. End quote. A premium positioning that works, rewarding exchanges and resolutely fruitful lunches. “During these luncheons, there have been some sales of private Falcons (flagship aircraft of the Dassault group) to wealthy Hong Kong businessmen, even though I am not aware of everything,” slips Harold Parisot whose appointments cross the air. Next step: a dinner organized in China, on April 8, with members of Xi Jinping’s government.

The zealous politicians

What is Harold Parisot still chasing based on this indisputable and undisputed success? The interested party, like a political leader, unfolds its roadmap in three points: 1) bringing more Chinese students to France, 2) attracting more Chinese tourists to the area for the sake of our economy and all our French brands, and 3) France a country of Chinese investment. “Otherwise I assume that all this windfall and economic potential will go to London, Berlin or Geneva,” emphasizes the 40-year-old who praises the pragmatism of the Chinese in doing business and from which he believes the French should largely draw on. “During a lunch with Chinese decision-makers, we immediately get to the heart of the matter as it goes more in the circles with the French, to the point where crucial issues are not tackled until dessert.” A somewhat caricatured comment, but one that has the merit of highlighting the lack of drive and risk-taking of French decision-makers.

Awarded with this “famous” feedback, Harold Parisot even distils some advice to companies that want to make themselves attractive in the eyes of Chinese consumers and especially internet users. “It’s a potential pool of 800 million customers, but I find it hard to understand why so few French brands have a presence on local social networks like WeChat for example.” An insulting speech that the officials who came to lunch at the Chinese Business Club are happy to endorse, such as Emmanuel Macron, then in Bercy, or Nicolas Sarkozy and, more surprisingly, the cantor of “Made in France”, Arnaud Montebourg, when he stood at the helm of the Ministry of Productive Recovery. “Even he underlined the importance of intensifying Franco-Chinese ties at the time.”Harold Parisot smiles. Between speeches and deeds, the Chinese Business Club has made its choice.

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