The chairman of the Sany Group, the Chinese equipment company that has a $60 million factory in Peachtree City, has been named one of China's economic people of the year.
Liang Wengen became one of China's richest men by selling concrete pumping equipment at a time when high-rises were booming across the country. He received the honor Dec. 12 from CCTV, the state-run television network.
Mr. Liang was honored for Sany's acquisition of Germany-based Putzmeister Holding GmbH, which manufactures concrete pumping equipment.
The acquisition triggered a realignment of the company's American operations as it consolidated concrete-pumping assembly at a former Putzmeister plant in Wisconsin.
The Georgia factory is now focused more on crawler cranes and excavators, as well as research and development for new products, Sany America executives have said.
Sany has also been embroiled in a legal battle with the U.S. government after the Senate's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States blocked a bid by Ralls Corp., a wind-power venture owned by two Sany executives, to put a wind farm on land it owns near a military base in Oregon.
Ralls has since sued President Obama for his order to block the transaction based on national security concerns. CCTV lauded the lawsuit in awarding Mr. Liang his distinction.
Ralls is represented in the case by Tim Tingkang Xia, a partner at Atlanta-based law firm Morris, Manning & Martin LLP.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal met with Mr. Liang on a trip to Sany's sprawling manufacturing campus in Changsha, Hunan. Sitting across a long conference table from Mr. Deal, Mr. Liang announced at the time that Sany would invest $25 million to put a research and development center at the Peachtree City factory, eventually hiring 300 additional workers.
This isn't the first time a Chinese investor in Georgia has been honored with the CCTV economic person of the year award.
Chen Wusheng, chairman of General Protecht Group, pledged in 2006 to build a $30 million factory in Barnesville, but it never materialized. The company faced multiple patent lawsuits in the United States, and Mr. Chen was later the target of an FBI inquiry for his company's alleged efforts to gain inside pricing information in its bid to become a supplier for Home Depot Inc.
He won the CCTV award in 2010, just after winning a second U.S. patent lawsuit and gaining immunity in the Home Depot case, which ultimately landed a Home Depot manager in jail.