Asia’s richest woman loses half her wealth in China’s property crisis. Here’s how

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Asia’s wealthiest woman, Yang Huiyan, saw her wealth reduced to more than half this year, from nearly $24 billion to $11 billion, as China’s property crisis escalated, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The 41-year-old controls Country Garden Holdings, China’s largest real estate developer by sales. Huiyan ‘s stake was largely transferred from her father, Yang Guoqiang, who founded the company in Foshan, Guangdong province, in 1992.

Country Garden’s stock lost more than half its value this year, as the country’s real estate sector struggled with falling home prices, weakening buyer demand, and a debt default crisis that has engulfed some of its largest developers since last year, CNN reported.

HUIYAN STILL THE RICHEST WOMAN IN ASIA

Despite losing more than half her fortune, Huiyan still remains the richest woman in Asia, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

However, the decline in her net worth has narrowed the wealth gap between her and fellow female billionaires in China, making Yang only some $100 million away from being surpassed by Fan Hongwei in wealth, the CNN report stated. Hongwei chairs the company Hengli Petrochemical, a chemical fiber producer.

HOW DID THE REAL ESTATE CRISIS ESCALATE?

In December last year, following months of liquidity issues, China’s most indebted property firm, Evergrande, defaulted on its US dollar bonds.

Following this, several other major developers, including Kaisa and Shimao Group, also sought protection from creditors.

A growing number of disgruntled homebuyers also threatened to stop paying mortgages if construction was not completed on time, escalating the real estate crisis.

COUNTRY GARDEN ALSO FACING LIQUIDITY STRESS

Huiyan’s Country Garden has also been facing increasing liquidity stress. The developer on July 27 announced that it would sell stocks at a nearly 13 per cent discount to raise HK$2.83 billion ($361 million), compared to its Tuesday’s closing price, adding that some of the proceeds will be used to repay the company’s offshore debt.

S&P Global Ratings, in a report earlier this week, estimated China’s property sales could drop by a third this year because of mortgage strikes, as people believe developers won’t be able to complete presold units in time— the most common way they sell homes in the country.

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