Yang Huiyan is no longer Asia’s richest woman as China’s property crisis hammers the nation’s developers, including her Country Garden Holdings Co.
Yang on Friday was surpassed in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index by India’s Savitri Jindal, who has an $11.3 billion fortune thanks to her conglomerate Jindal Group, which is involved in industries including metals and power generation. She also slipped below fellow Chinese tycoon Fan Hongwei, whose wealth derives from chemical-fiber company Hengli Petrochemical Co.
It’s been a dramatic fall for Yang, who in 2005 inherited her father’s stake in the real estate developer, becoming one of the youngest billionaires on the planet. For the past five years she’s been Asia’s richest woman, reflecting the rapid growth of China’s property sector.
Her fortune has more than halved this year to $11 billion, with the decline accelerating this week when her Country Garden, China’s largest property developer, said it needed to raise equity at a discount, causing the stock to plunge to its lowest since 2016. Yang, now in her early forties, owns about 60% of Country Garden and a 43% stake in its management-services unit.
Jindal, 72, is India’s richest woman and the 10th-richest person in the country of about 1.4 billion. She became the chairwoman of the Jindal Group shortly after her husband, founder OP Jindal, died in a helicopter crash in 2005. The company is the third-largest producer of steel in India and also operates in cement, energy and infrastructure.
Jindal’s net worth has fluctuated wildly in recent years. It fell to $3.2 billion in April 2020 at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, then reached as high as $15.6 billion in April 2022 as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent commodity prices soaring.
Fan, 55, has also seen her fortune drop this year, but she’s held up better than some other billionaires in China. It reflects the diversity of her business empire, which has its origins in a bankrupt state-owned textile factory in Wujiang, in the eastern Jiangsu province.
Originally an accountant, Fan established Hengli Group in 1994, with her husband, Chen Jianhua, later expanding into polyester, petrochemicals, oil refining and tourism. The group reported 732.3 billion yuan ($109 billion) in revenue last year. Chen’s personal fortune is estimated at $6.4 billion by the Bloomberg wealth index.