Canadian ex-wife of China’s ‘vaccine emperor’ becomes a billionaire overnight after the tycoon gave her £2.6billion worth of shares in one of world’s most expensive divorces
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The ex-wife of a Chinese biotech tycoon has seen her wealth rocket overnight after receiving some £2.6billion (NZD 5.16 billion) worth of shares from her former partner in one of the world’s most costly break-ups.
Canadian-Chinese Yuan Liping, 49, became a multi-billionaire after recently ending her marriage with 56-year-old magnate Du Weimin, who is dubbed the ‘vaccine emperor’ of China.
Mr Du, who was worth £5.3billion, gave nearly half of his stocks from his vaccine manufacturer to his ex-wife, instantly making her one of the richest women in China.
Mr Du, the chairman of Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products, transferred more than 161.3million shares to Ms Yuan, according to a statement released by the company on May 29.
Each Kangtai stock was worth 140.78 yuan (£15.8, $19.8) as of Monday’s close, making the total value of the settlement a whopping 22.7billion yuan (£2.6billion, $3.2billion).
Mr Du owned 51.26 per cent of the company’s shares before passing 23.99 per cent of the firm’s total to his ex-wife, according to China’s Securities Times.
Kangtai’s statement said that Ms Yuan did not seek to have control over the company and delegated the voting rights to Mr Du.
Ms Yuan, who lives in Shenzhen, keeps a low profile and rarely appears on media.
She served as a director of Kangtai between May 2011 and August 2018, reported Bloomberg. She is said to be the current vice general manager of subsidiary Beijing Minhai Biotechnology.
Mr Du, a self-made mogul, gained his business success by being a major producer of the Hepatitis B vaccine in the country.
He ranked the 81st on the China Rich List 2019 by Forbes.
The tycoon was born in 1963 to an impoverished farming family in the southern province of Jiangxi.
He started studying in a local health school in 1984 and got his first job as an inspector at the Jiangxi Provincial Health and Epidemic Prevention Station in 1987.
His fate changed when he quit his job at the state-run health station to become a vaccine salesman in the 1990s. In 1995, he was promoted to be a sales manager for a biotech company.
He stepped into the chairman’s role in Kangtai in 2009 after the firm acquired Minhai, a company Mr Du had founded five years earlier.
Mr Du and Ms Yuan’s dissolution of marriage has been one of the most expensive break-ups in China.
Local media outlets have compared it to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s divorce, though the latter involved a much higher settlement.
Mr Bezos, the world’s richest man, and his wife MacKenzie agreed upon their divorce in April 2019.
Mr Bezos kept 75 per cent of their joint $144billion (£115billion) Amazon stake, leaving MacKenzie with a quarter which represented a four per cent stake in the company worth $35.8billion (£28billion) at the time.
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