Vaccine tycoon loses $3.3 billion to ex-wife in “China’s biggest divorce”

The high price of love

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Demonstrating the tremendous cost of love, a woman has become a billionaire overnight.

Du Weimin (杜伟民), the chairman of Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co, has transferred 161.3 million company shares to his ex-wife, Yuan Liping (袁莉萍), as part of the couple’s divorce settlement.

The shares are worth a whopping $3.29 billion.

Following the transfer, Yuan holds about a 24 percent stake in Kangtai, though she has signed over her voting rights to her ex-husband.

Kangtai is a Chinese vaccine-maker which got listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2017 and has seen its stocks surge this year after announcing its intentions to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

Du, 56, was born to a family of farmers in rural Jiangxi province. He studied chemistry in college and went to work in the biotech industry, founding his own company in 2004 and taking over as head of Kangtai five years later.

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His wife, Yuan, 49, reportedly has Canadian citizenship. She got a bachelor’s degree in economics from Beijing’s University of International Business and Economics, served as director of Kangtai from 2011 to 2018, and now is the vice general manager of a subsidiary company.

She is also now one of the world’s richest women.

The divorce appears to be China’s most expensive to date. Previously, that record had belonged to Wu Yajun, once known as the “world’s richest self-made woman.” In 2012, Wu transferred $2.3 billion in shares of her company, Longfor Properties, to her ex-husband, thus losing that title — though she has since reportedly managed to reclaim that mantle.

Of course, these are trifling amounts compared to the wealth obtained by Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, in the couple’s divorce settlement last year, which saw her receive a 4 percent stake in Amazon, worth about $38 billion at the time.

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