YANG Huiyan
YANG Huiyan

BEIJING: Asia’s wealthiest woman lost more than half her fortune over the past year as China’s real estate sector was rocked by a cash crunch, a billionaire index showed on Thursday.

Yang Huiyan, a majority shareholder in Chinese property giant Country Garden, saw her net worth plunge by more than 52 percent to $11.3 billion from $23.7 billion a year ago, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Yang’s fortune took a major hit on Wednesday when the Guang­dong-based Country Gar­den’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell 15 percent after the company announced it would sell new shares to raise cash.

Yang inherited her wealth when her father — Country Garden founder Yang Guoqiang — transferred his shares to her in 2005, according to state media.

She became Asia’s richest woman two years later after the developer’s initial public offering in Hong Kong.

But she is now barely holding onto that title, with chemical fibres tycoon Fan Hongwei a close runner-up with a net worth of $11.2 billion on Thursday.

Chinese authorities cracked down on excessive debt in the property sector in 2020, leaving major players such as Evergrande and Sunac struggling to make payments and forcing them to renegotiate with creditors as they teetered on the edge of bankruptcy.

Buyers across the country, furious at lagging construction and delayed deliveries of their properties, have begun withholding mortg­age payments for homes sold before completion.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2022

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