Asia’s richest woman saw her fortune halved this week amid China’s housing crisis. This is the discreet Yang Huiyan, whose 2021 capital was estimated at $23.7 billion.
His fortune today is just $11.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Ranking of Billionaires released on Thursday. In fact, Yang Huiyan is the majority shareholder of Country Garden, one of China’s largest real estate developers. Despite the real estate crisis, the company achieved the highest sales in the industry last year.
A poorly perceived stock sale
Some groups are struggling to survive, like Evergrande, strangled by a slate worth around $300 billion. Country Garden is in better shape but is still trying to increase its liquidity as payment deadlines approach. The group offered new shares for sale on Wednesday in a bid to raise funds, a move seen by markets as a sign of vulnerability.
Country Garden’s shares lost 15% of their value on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, effectively eroding Yang Huiyan’s personal wealth. The 40-year-old has become a billionaire since she inherited shares from her father, the founder of Country Garden, in 2005.
A fragile and over-indebted sector
Housing reform in China (1998) created a real real estate market and led to a meteoric boom in the sector, fueled by social norms, with ownership often being a requirement for marriage. But the massive indebtedness of the project sponsors is perceived by the authorities as a major risk for the country’s economy and finances.
To reduce this debt, Beijing has gradually tightened the conditions for project promoters to access credit since 2020, thereby drying up sources of financing for already indebted groups. A wave of insolvencies followed, including at the Evergrande Group. The former Chinese real estate number one will soon reveal the beginnings of a restructuring plan.