China property

Country Garden, China’s biggest developer by sales, appoints Yang Huiyan, its richest woman, as co-chairman

  • Yang, daughter of company founder Yeung Kwok-keung, will help in day-to-day running of company
  • Currently holds a 57.23 per cent stake in the developer
PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2018, 7:43pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2018, 3:59pm

Country Garden, China’s biggest property developer by sales, on Friday appointed Yang Huiyan, the daughter of its founder, Yeung Kwok-keung, as co-chairman.

The company, the latest in a string of Chinese property developers appointing the younger generation to senior roles, informed the Hong Kong stock exchange in a filing of Yang’s new designation. The 37-year-old was previously a vice-chairman at the developer. Yeung, 64, who founded Country Garden in 1992, will remain as its chairman.

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According to the filing, Yang will help her father in the day-to-day work of the group and will be “responsible for the group’s strategic investments and new business exploration based on existing business, such as new retail business, contributing to the company’s sustainable development”.

Yan Yuejin, an analyst at Shanghai-based real estate services company E-House China R&D Institute, said: “Most of the founders of China’s developers started their businesses in 1990s, in their 30s or 40s, and now have reached a certain age, which is usually regarded as an age for retirement in the country.

“A majority of China’s property companies are family businesses, and passing [the control of these companies] to children is a common practise.”

Yang, who is worth US$18.6 billion, is currently ranked as the sixth wealthiest person and the richest woman in China by Forbes.

In 2007, her father transferred his controlling stake to her “due to his intention to train Yang Huiyan as the successor of his family’s interest” in the group, Country Garden said. She currently holds 12.388 billion shares, or a 57.23 per cent stake, in the company.

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The developer said it was actively exploring new business segments, such as agriculture and robotics, and said the introduction of a co-chairman was conducive to its “effective operation”.

Other Chinese companies appointing the younger generation to senior roles, with the idea of them taking over the reins eventually, include Longfor Group Holdings, another top 10 developer in China, which on November 22 said its chairwoman, Wu Yajun, 54, had transferred the whole of her 43.9 per cent stake in the company to her daughter, Cai Xinyi.

According to the prospectus Hangzhou-based Dexing Group filed with the Hong Kong stock exchange, Hu Shihao, the 23-year-old son of Hu Yiping, its founder, had been appointed as a non-executive director of the company in August.

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Hopson Development pointed founder Zhu Mengyi’s daughter Zhu Jurong as vice-chairman in 2013, while two of his sons also work in other companies owned by him.

At Shanghai Shimao Construction, chairman Xu Shimao's son Xu Shitan and daughter Xu Weiwei have separately been in charge of key businesses in the group.