Chinese billionaire realty queen resigns amid country's deepening property crisis
China is grappling with a nationwide property crisis. This has given rise to a new phenomenon where founders of builders are leaving their companies. Wu Yajun, billionaire and co-founder of Beijing-based Longfor Group Holdings Ltd., has joined the list. Her resignation as executive director and chairperson of the company sent its shares plummeting. The company has cited health reasons for her resignation.
Why does this story matter?
- Over the last decade, China's property market contributed around a quarter of GDP. It was synonymous with the country's rapid growth.
- Now, it mirrors the economic glum the country is facing. A model that has basically financed global expansion in the last 10 years is at a turning point. Longfor and Yajun are two of the latest concerns.
Yajun and company cited health reasons for resignation
Yajun's resignation at a time when the Chinese real estate market is going through one of the toughest phases has sent shockwaves across the industry. Longfor and Yajun cited age and health as the reasons for her resignation. Yajun reportedly told investors that she has been suffering from diabetes and thyroid for a long time. However, the timing has surprised everyone.
She worked as an engineer and journalist before real estate
Born in 1964, Yajun graduated from the Department of Navigation Engineering of Northwestern Polytechnical University. She began her professional life in the Qianwei Meter Factory before working as a journalist and editor at China Shirong News Agency. The news agency was controlled by the Construction Bureau of Chongquing Municipal Department. This served as a boost for her career in the real estate industry.
She topped the 2022 Hurun Richest Self-Made Women list
Yajun and her ex-husband Cai Kui co-founded Longfor in 1993. The company's growth has been rapid since. In 2009, the company went public. Along with Longfor, Yajun's wealth grew as well. She topped the Hurun Richest Self-Made Women in the World in 2022. According to Forbes, in 2021, her net worth was $18.3 billion. Currently, it is at $6.4 billion.
Yajun will remain as an adviser
Yajun is not the first to resign amid China's ever-deepening property crisis. In September, SOHO China's chairman Pan Shiyi had stepped down from his position. Following Yajun's resignation, Longfor's share prices fell by 38%. Chen Xuping, Longfor's CEO since March, has been appointed as the company's new chairman. Yajun will reportedly remain as a strategic adviser for the company.