Asia’s Former Richest Lady Takes Over From Father Amid China’s Extended Actual Property Droop


Yang Huiyan, who has cochaired property developer Country Garden with her father, Yeung Kwok Keung, since 2018, became the sole chairman of the company Wednesday after the elder Yeung announced his resignation.

Yeung decided to step down for reasons related to his age, the Hong Kong-listed developer said in a stock exchange filing. The mogul will continue to participate in operations as a special advisor. He was born in 1955 to an impoverished family in China’s southern Guangdong province before finding work in the construction industry, which eventually led to him founding Foshan-based Country Garden in 1992, local media reports show.

“This succession reflected Mr. Yeung’s full trust and recognition of Ms. Yang, and the company will achieve better development under the leadership of the board and management,” Country Garden said in the filing.

The 41-year-old Yang has long been groomed to take over the company, although the succession comes when China’s property market has been caught in an extended slump. Yang first joined Country Garden in 2005 before being promoted to the role of cochairman more than a decade later. She is currently estimated to have a net worth of $9 billion, which is largely based on a 57% stake transferred from Yeung to her in 2007. That holding once made her the richest woman in Asia.

But after garnering a peak fortune of $29.6 billion in 2021, Country Garden took a sharp turn for the worse. Although the developer is believed to be on a better financial footing than debt-laden peers, such as Hui Ka Yan’s Evergrande, Country Garden has still struggled amid China’s broader crackdown on the property market.

According to its 2022 interim report, net profit for the first half of last year plunged 96% to $612 million, while revenues fell by a third. In a bid to shore up the nation’s slumping economy, Chinese authorities have recently eased funding access for many real estate companies and removed purchasing restrictions in major cities.

Country Garden, for its part, has been able to issue bonds and tap lines of credit extended by state-owned banks, but it faces continued weakness in the property sector. The industry shrank 5.1% in 2022, becoming one of the biggest drags on the wider economy. According to a January research note from Moody’s Investors Service, nationwide sales is likely to decline again in 2023 due to continued sluggish demand, although the downward pace may be slower than last year due to the government’s more supportive stance.


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