China's Richest Woman Is Rapidly Getting Poorer

Yang Hiuyan's $23.7B fortune has more than halved amid real estate crisis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2022 1:15 PM CDT
China's Richest Woman Has Lost Half Her Fortune
Construction workers in Beijing, Thursday, July 28, 2022.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(Newser) – With an estimated fortune of $11.3 billion, China's richest woman isn't exactly short on cash—but the country's real estate crisis has made Yang Huiyan a lot poorer than she was at the start of the year. Bloomberg reports that Yang had an estimated $23.7 billion at the beginning of 2022 but her net worth has dropped by more than half since then, including a loss of around $2 billion on Wednesday. Yang is the majority shareholder in Country Garden, China's largest property developer, and the company's share price has plummeted this year amid falling home sales and a rapidly spreading mortgage boycott.

In China, around 90% of new properties are pre-sold, but the rate of construction has massively slowed since the start of the pandemic and buyers have started halting mortgage payments on unfinished projects, the Economist reports. Thousands of housing projects across China are currently unfinished and seemingly abandoned, and buyers fear that developers have misused funds that were supposed to be for construction. Developers are having trouble paying creditors, and some contractors and suppliers have also stopped making loan repayments, raising fears about China's financial stability, per the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Huiyan, 41, became China's richest woman at 25. Her father, who founded the company in 1992, transferred his holdings to her in 2005—two years after she graduated from Ohio State University. The mortgage boycott has spread to more than 300 projects in 93 cities and while Country Garden projects are so far unaffected, analysts say it could be highly exposed to any downturn because most of its newer project are in lower-tier cities where people have lower incomes, reports Bloomberg. The company's shares dropped 15% on Wednesday. (Read more China stories.)

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