Asia’s richest woman has halved her wealth as a housing crisis in China has severely weakened the sector, a ranking of billionaires showed on Thursday.
The reticent Chinese-born Yang Huiyan’s fortune was valued at $23.7 billion last year but is now valued at just $11.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Ranking of Billionaires.
Majority shareholder of one of the largest Chinese developers
Yang Huiyan is Country Garden’s majority shareholder. It’s one of the biggest developers in China, which had the industry’s highest revenue last year despite a housing crisis.
Weakened, some groups are struggling to survive, like promoter Evergrande, who is being strangled by an abysmal slate worth around $300 billion.
Country Garden is in comparatively better financial shape, but the group is still looking to increase liquidity as payment deadlines approach.
Country Garden goes public
The sale of new shares in the group on Wednesday to raise capital was therefore taken by the markets as a sign of vulnerability.
On Wednesday, Country Garden’s shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange lost 15% of their value, further eroding Yang Huiyan’s personal wealth.
According to official press, the 40-year-old has become a billionaire since she inherited shares from her father, the founder of Country Garden, in 2005.
Housing reform in China in 1998, which created a real real estate market, led to a meteoric boom in the sector, fueled by societal norms, with the acquisition of property often being a requirement for marriage.
However, the massive indebtedness of the project sponsors has been perceived by the government in recent years as a major risk for the country’s economy and financial system.
Therefore, since 2020, in order to reduce the sector’s indebtedness, Beijing has gradually tightened the conditions for access to credit for developers, which has dried up sources of financing for already indebted corporations.
A wave of insolvencies followed, including at the Evergrande Group.
The former Chinese real estate number one is banking on its survival and is expected to unveil the beginnings of a restructuring plan in the coming days.