HONG KONG – Over the past two years, bad news has piled up for Chinese property developers.
Nation’s worsening credit crisis It has led to defaults, failure to deliver homes on schedule, and relentless market declines. A new phenomenon is occurring now. The builder’s founder is leaving.
Longfor Group Holdings’ Wu Yajun stepped down as executive director and chairman last Friday, shortly after Soho China’s Pan Shiyi stepped down in September. Wu cited health reasons, but the timing surprised analysts.
“It is very likely that mainland Chinese real estate founders will leave key roles in companies,” said Kakei Lam, head of fund investment at Metaverse Securities in Hong Kong. “The golden age of Chinese property is over and they probably don’t think much of what they can do.”
The unexpected move comes despite Wu’s family spending HK$28.6 million (S$5.2 million) to buy up the stake in order to boost market confidence and the company repaying part of the syndicated loan early. Longfor stocks and bonds plunged on Monday. The resignation only adds to concerns that the developer with the highest credit rating among China’s private companies cannot rely on its relatively strong position to stem the ongoing national crisis.
While this trend has only just started in the real estate sector, in China’s technology industry, Ant Group’s torpedo-like initial public offering, cost billions of dollars to the market value of the company. Alicia García Herrero, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Natixis, said entrepreneurs are quitting over fears that President Xi Jinping is trying to regulate the accumulation of wealth.
In the case of Soho China, shares have fallen to record lows since Mr. Ban left the company to focus on philanthropy.
Once China’s richest woman, Wu has lost two-thirds of her fortune this year, dropping her from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which tracks the world’s 500 richest people. At the close of trading on Monday, her assets stood at US$4.5 billion (S$6.4 billion).
Wu told investors in a phone call over the weekend that he had struggled with diabetes and thyroid disease for years and planned to announce his resignation after Longfor’s latest earnings report in August, according to state media. She decided to hold off to wait for better times and the company purchased some land in her September, she said.
Chen Xuping, Longfor’s chief executive officer since March, succeeded Wu as chairman, and two other new directors were appointed to the board last Friday. Wu has vowed to remain as a strategic development consultant to support the business model and look for growth opportunities, state media reports said.
“The sale reflects the market’s doubts about the successor’s competence and whether the company can sustain its development plans in the future,” said Lam of Metaverse Securities.
Known as one of China’s self-made female entrepreneurs, Wu divorced Cai Kui in 2012, giving him more than a third of their stake in Longfor. She lost her status as China’s richest woman after transferring to The following year, she founded her own family office, Wu Capital, to diversify her private equity and technology investments.
https://www.straitstimes.com/business/china-s-property-crash-sends-billionaire-founders-heading-to-exits Billionaire founders head for exit as Chinese property crash