Hong Kong paper billionaires lose their fortunes amid small-cap stock rout

The Hong Kong Exchanges flag, Chinese national flag and Hong Kong flag are hoisted outside the Hong Kong Stocks Exchange. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Three former billionaires who made their fortunes by taking their companies public in Hong Kong shed more than 91 per cent of their wealth amid the market rout that's roiling small-cap stocks in the city.

Huang Wenji suffered the biggest loss when his stake in China Jicheng Holdings plunged US$1.9 billion (S$2.62 billion) since the crash began during trading hours on Tuesday (June 27). Shares of the umbrella maker based in Jinjiang in China's Fujian province tumbled 95 per cent as a series of losses cascaded across a network of companies with cross-shareholdings, leaving the former billionaire with a stake in the business that the Bloomberg Billionaires Index values at US$115 million.

Wong Wing-wah and Wong Che-kwo, two more ex-billionaires whose civil engineering business Luen Wong Group Holdings is linked to the same network, lost a combined US$1.1 billion in the rout. The declines shrunk the value of their stakes by 91 per cent.

Both companies are among more than 131 stocks featured in warnings from Hong Kong's regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission, about high shareholding concentrations, thin turnover and small public floats. The businesses were flagged along with 48 others by shareholder activist David Webb who said in a report six weeks ago that the operations were entwined in a complex web of cross-shareholdings that had pushed their valuations to unsustainable levels.

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