Wu Yajun, once China's richest woman, has lost that title. Wu, a billionaire who heads one of China’s biggest property developers, has divorced her husband and given him a nearly 30% stake in the company, Longfor Properties.
That makes her ex-husband, Cai Kui, a billionaire on his own, with a $2.8 billion net worth based on Monday’s closing share price.
Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper quoted a Longfor spokesman last Wednesday as saying that no longer being China’s richest woman may be good news for Wu, since “she likes to keep a low profile.”
Wu was China’s richest woman on Forbes’ China Rich List in October with a net worth of $6.2 billion.
Since the divorce, her fortune declined to $4.2 billion (HK$33 billion).
China’s richest woman is now Yang Huiyan, executive director of Guangzhou-based developer Country Garden, whose net worth Forbes estimates at $5.1 billion.
According to a Spetember company disclosure to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Wu owns 43.2 percent of Longfor through the Wu Family Trust, which she set up in June 2008, one year before the company listed in Hong Kong. Cai controlled 28.8 percent of the company through his Cai Family Trust, which he founded at the same time.
It's not clear yet when the couple has filed for divorce. But FORBES discovered that a company disclosure of its ownership structure on September 5 quietly removed the words “the spouse” preceding Cai Kui and Wu Yajun when referring to their stakes in the company. A similar filing on April 10 still referred to each of them as a “spouse”.
A former journalist, Wu Yajun cofounded Longfor Properties with her husband in 1994. The company turned itself into a national brand from its initial base in Chongqing.
In the face of government policies aimed at lowering real estate prices, Longfor turned up the sales volume in the first half of this year. Sales soared 85 percent to $2.3 billion; profit rose 72 percent to $532 million.
Longfor’s stock price tumbled 7 percent in the two days after the news broke out, but rebounded somewhat. It closed at $1.80 (HKD 14.1) on Monday, down 1.4 percent from a week ago.