HK's richest woman loses half her wealth on stock dive

HONG KONG • The richest woman in Hong Kong, Mrs Pollyanna Chu, has lost that title after her listed firm turned into Asia's worst performer this year.

Worth almost US$12 billion (S$15.8 million) as recently as January, she has seen more than half of her wealth wiped out as the stock crashed.

Kingston Financial Group, which operates businesses including Macau casinos and margin lending, has tumbled 52 per cent since Hong Kong's securities regulator in January warned investors that the firm's shares were overly concentrated among a small number of stockholders.

Kingston Financial plunged 12 per cent yesterday after FTSE Russell, one of the world's most-followed index providers, removed the stock from its benchmarks. For its financing, the firm relies largely on unsecured loans provided cheaply by Mrs Chu and her family, according to a January analysis from activist investor David Webb.

The stock is the worst performer on MSCI's Asian gauge this year, after surging 88 per cent in the last quarter of 2017. Some speculators may have made a killing from Kingston's misfortunes - IHS Markit data showed short interest was about 6.3 per cent of free float as of Friday. The firm declined to comment on the slump in shares.

Casino magnate Stanley Ho's daughter Pansy is now No. 1 on Hong Kong's ultra-rich women list, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'HK's richest woman loses half her wealth on stock dive'. Print Edition | Subscribe