Named the richest man in China on Thursday with a net worth of $43 billion, property tycoon Xu Jiayin is likened by some media to Donald Trump, having built his fortune on a real estate business that has blossomed under a mountain of debt.
The 59-year-old Xu’s China Evergrande Group has a market value of $47 billion, although its total debt stands at more than $100 billion, an issue that has prompted some wary investors to short the stock.
Evergrande, China’s second-most indebted company, has now pledged to cut its net debt ratio to around 70 percent by June 2020 from 240 percent and has raised $3.8 billion in new funds and exchanged $2.8 billion of existing debt this year.
Evergrande, whose shares have surged 480 percent this year, is now ranked as the country’s third-largest developer by sales.
Thanks to a boom in the value of Chinese property assets, Xu’s wealth has climbed by $30 billion in the past year to top the rich list compiled annually by the Hurun Report.