Hong Kong (CNN Business)Yang Huiyan, Asia’s wealthiest woman, has seen her wealth fall to $11 billion from nearly $24 billion this year as China’s property crisis escalates, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The 41-year-old controls Country Garden Holdings, China’s largest real estate developer by sales. Her stake was largely transferred from her father Yang Guoqiang, who founded the company in Foshan, Guangdong province, in 1992.
Country Garden’s stock has lost more than half its value this year, as the country’s real estate sector has struggled with falling home prices, weakening buyer demand, and a debt default crisis that has engulfed some of its largest developers since last year.
Despite losing more than half her fortune, Yang remains the richest woman in Asia, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The plunge 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. Fan chairs Hengli Petrochemical, a chemical fiber producer.
Blame that on China’s property quagmire.
Evergrande, China’s most indebted property firm, defaulted on its US dollar bonds in December following months of liquidity issues. Since then, several other major developers, including Kaisa and Shimao Group, have also sought protection from creditors.
In recent weeks, the real estate crisis has escalated, as thousands of disgruntled homebuyers who had made down payments for unfinished homes threatened to stop paying mortgages if construction is not completed in time.
Country Garden is also facing growing liquidity stress. On Wednesday, the developer announced it would sell stocks at a nearly 13% discount to raise HK$2.83 billion ($361 million), compared to its Tuesday’s closing price.
Some of the proceeds will be used to repay the company’s offshore debt, it added.
“The mortgage boycotts are a double threat to developers and to the housing market,” said analysts at Capital Economics in a report on Wednesday.
They have drawn attention to the problem of cash-strapped developers being unable to complete properties that they have already sold, which is “putting off new homebuyers.” The boycotts have also made banks more cautious about issuing mortgages, which could dent property sales further, they added.
In a report earlier this week, S&P Global Ratings 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.
“Without sales, many more developers will collapse, which is both a financial and an economic threat,” said Capital Economics analysts.
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