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John D. Kuhns is an author, artist, businessman and investment banker. His published writing is about China, while much of his business career has been in the alternative energy industry. He has founded five companies. In addition to the United States and China, Kuhns also has established companies and developed projects in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, England, Honduras, India, Ireland, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Wales.
Born in Lake Forest, Illinois to college professors, Kuhns spent his formative years in Takoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., where he was educated in the public schools.
A member of the Class of 1972 at Georgetown University, he studied fine arts and sociology. Kuhns was a four-year starter at middle linebacker on the Georgetown varsity football team. Leading the team in tackles in two years, and the second leading tackler in his other two campaigns, Kuhns was elected a team captain in his senior year. He was inducted into the Georgetown University Athletic Hall of Fame] in 1994.
A sculptor, Kuhns received a scholarship to study fine arts at the University of Chicago in 1973. He graduated with a Master’s in Fine Arts degree in 1975.
He attended Harvard Business School in Boston, Massachusetts, graduating with a Master’s in Business Administration degree in 1977. During his summer between years, he worked on the bond trading desk at the investment banking firm of Salomon Brothers in its Boston office.
Kuhns joined Salomon Brothers in 1977 in the public finance department, working on publicly owned electric utility projects. He joined a group forming J.J. Lowrey & Co., a bond trading and project finance investment bank as a general partner.
Kuhns wrote the business plan for Catalyst Energy Corporation and incorporated it in January 1982. In 1984, Kuhns visited Chengdu, China. In 1987, Kuhns supervised the IPO of Catalyst’s affiliate—Catalyst Thermal Energy Corporation.
In 1986, Kuhns acquired control of Laidlaw, Adams & Peck investment bank and changed the firm’s name to Kuhns Brothers & Laidlaw. Under his direction, Kuhns Brothers financed many companies, including the IPO for CalEnergy a geothermal power corporation. From 1989 to the present, having changed the firm's name to Kuhns Brothers, Kuhns and his colleagues have continued to focus on financing domestic alternative energy companies and foreign issuers, mainly from China.
In 2006, Kuhns formed China Hydroelectric Corporation, an owner and developer of hydroelectric projects in the People's Republic of China.
Subsequently, Kuhns in 2007 organized the China Hand Fund, a private equity investment organization which invests in companies in China.
In 2012, having been an investor in and a director of the company since 1999, Kuhns became Chairman of Global Photonic Energy Corporation.
Kuhns' novel China Fortunes, was published by John Wiley & Sons in 2010.
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