Retail investors might not be the worst-hit victims of the mainland's stock market downturn, new data suggests.
In fact, the top bosses of listed firms might have borne the brunt of the slump, their personal net worth shrinking dramatically.
The state-owned China Securities Journal says the 10 richest bosses at mainland-listed firms lost 35.6 billion yuan (HK$44.3 billion) in tandem with a 7.7 per cent decline in the key indicator.
The combined value of the shares owned by the 10 bosses in the firms stood at 125.5 billion yuan on Thursday, 23.2 per cent less than at the end of last year.
Liang Wengen, the chairman of Sany, the country's biggest construction machinery maker, lost nearly 11 billion yuan. He holds shares in four listed firms - Sany Heavy Industry, Sichuan Nitrocell, Shanxi Antai and Xiamen XGMA Machinery.
Liang took the dubious honour of being the biggest individual loser in terms of value on the share market this year, according to the journal.
The value of his shares on Thursday had fallen 31.4 per cent since the end of last year.
The mainland stock market has been among the world's worst-performers since 2010.
Retail investors who put years of savings in volatile stocks had been regarded as the main victims of the slump.
"The huge loss by the big bosses better reflects a dire picture of the mainland market," West China Securities trader Wei Wei said. "But for retail investors, their loss on equity investments means worse living conditions, since they have to spend less on daily needs."
The initial public offering bonanza in 2010 created dozens of billionaires on the mainland as the founders of the businesses became super rich overnight after their companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges and traded at elevated prices.
The net worth of Li Li and Li Tan, the couple who founded Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical, soared to 50.4 billion yuan after the shares of the company surged 18.4 per cent on their first trading day in May 2010. It was believed then that the shares were overvalued at 74 yuan (adjusted for a split).
On Thursday, the couple's shares were valued at 10.7 billion yuan.
The price of their company's shares had plunged to 17.68 yuan.