Asia’s richest woman lost more than half her wealth last year as the Chinese real estate sector was rocked by a money crisis, a billionaire index showed on Thursday.
Yang Huiyan, a majority shareholder of Chinese real estate giant Country Garden, saw its net worth fall more than 52 percent to $11.3 billion, from $23.7 billion a year ago, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Yang’s fortunes took a major blow on Wednesday when Hong Kong-listed shares of Guangdong-based Country Garden fell 15 percent after the company announced it would sell new shares to raise money.
Yang inherited her wealth when her father, Country Garden founder Yang Guoqiang, transferred his shares to her in 2005, state media reported.
She became Asia’s richest woman two years later after the developer’s IPO in Hong Kong.
But she’s barely holding that title now, with chemical fiber tycoon Fan Hongwei finishing a close second with a net worth of $11.2 billion on Thursday.
Chinese authorities cracked down on excessive debt in the real estate sector in 2020, leaving major players like Evergrande and Sunac struggling to make payments and forcing them to renegotiate with creditors as they teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.
Buyers across the country, enraged at the lagging construction and delayed deliveries of their properties, have begun withholding mortgage payments on homes sold before completion.
While Country Garden has been relatively unscathed by the industry turmoil, it scared off investors with an announcement Wednesday that it plans to raise more than $343 million through a stock sale, in part to pay off debt.
The proceeds from the sale would be used to “refinance existing offshore debt, general working capital and future development purposes,” Country Garden said in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
China’s banking regulator has urged lenders to support the real estate sector and meet companies’ “reasonable financing needs” as analysts and policymakers fear financial contagion.
The real estate sector is estimated to account for 18-30 percent of the country’s GDP and is a major driver of growth in the world’s second largest economy.
Analysts have warned the sector is stuck in a “vicious circle” that would further dampen consumer confidence after the release of dismal second quarter growth figures that were the worst since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)