This story appears in the November 2022 issue of Forbes Asia. Subscribe to Forbes Asia
This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of China’s Richest 2022. See the full list here.
Asia’s former richest woman, Yang Huiyan, has lost over 80% of her once $29.6 billion fortune (at its peak in 2021) as Country Garden Holdings succumbs to China’s mounting property crisis. The downturn has been fueled by a spreading mortgage boycott and a liquidity crunch that shows few signs of abating.
The Guangdong-based residential property developer, once considered healthier than debt-laden peers such as Shimao Group, Sunac China Holdings and China Evergrande Group, has been hit by government measures put in place in 2020 to curb housing prices and reduce staggering debt among property developers. Its first-half net profit plunged 96% to $612 million yuan ($86 million), the biggest drop since its 2007 listing in Hong Kong, while revenue fell by a third.
Shares have plummeted 84% over the past year, reducing Yang’s wealth to $4.91 billion based on her 57% stake, largely transferred to her by her father, Yeung Kwok Keung, in 2007. They co-chair the company, while Yang’s younger sister, Ziyang, also sits on the board.
In June the company told the state-run Securities Daily that credit-rating agency Moody’s decision to downgrade its debt to junk wouldn’t impact its debt-servicing and financing capabilities. To shore up its balance sheet, Country Garden sold stock in July at a 13% discount to the market price for a total of HK$2.83 billion ($361 million). Two months later it issued 1.5 billion yuan of state-guaranteed notes, a program that Chinese regulators have signaled their intention to expand. As of June, it faced 1.3 trillion yuan in debt payments over the next 12 months, far exceeding its cash and cash equivalents of 123.5 billion yuan.