Ex-chemistry teacher Zhong Huijuan poised to become China’s third-richest woman after founding US$10.4 billion Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group

  • Firm is expected to go public in Hong Kong on Friday, with Zhang’s 68 per cent stake giving her a US$7.9 billion fortune
  • She and husband Sun Piaoyang will join world’s richest pharmaceutical families, rivalling the Sacklers and Bertarellis
A technician loads containers on a rack at a Cyagen Biosciences facility in Jiangsu province, China, in March. Photo: Bloomberg
A technician loads containers on a rack at a Cyagen Biosciences facility in Jiangsu province, China, in March. Photo: Bloomberg
Zhong Huijuan quit her job teaching chemistry to teenagers and got into the drug business.
The career switch has paid off handsomely.
Her Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group, China’s largest maker of psychotropic drugs, is poised to go public on Friday in Hong Kong with a market value of US$10.4 billion. Zhong holds a 68 per cent stake, giving her a US$7.9 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Zhong, 58, is not even the richest person in the family. Her husband Sun Piaoyang, 60, is worth US$9.2 billion, thanks to the success of his Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, a maker of anti-tumour drugs whose stock has returned about 16,300 per cent since it went public in Shanghai almost two decades ago.
Longfor Group Holdings Chairwoman Wu Yajun attends the company’s interim results announcement at the JW Marriott Hotel in Hong Kong in August 2016. Photo: May Tse
Longfor Group Holdings Chairwoman Wu Yajun attends the company’s interim results announcement at the JW Marriott Hotel in Hong Kong in August 2016. Photo: May Tse

They are poised to be among the world’s richest pharmaceutical families, with a combined fortune that rivals the Sacklers, who made a fortune selling opioids, and the Bertarellis of Switzerland.

Health-care spending in China has surged to 5.9 trillion yuan (US$853 billion) last year from 3.5 trillion yuan in 2014, and is projected to top 9.4 trillion yuan in 2023, Hansoh said in a prospectus for the offering.

Cen Junda, a long-time investor of the Lianyungang, Jiangsu-based company, is also a billionaire with a stake valued at about US$1.7 billion.

Iris Luo, a spokeswoman for Hansoh, declined to comment on their fortunes.

Who is Yang Huiyan, China’s richest woman?

The IPO will make Zhong China’s third-richest woman, after two real estate moguls: Country Garden Holdings co-chairman Yang Huiyan, and Longfor Group Holdings

Chairwoman Wu Yajun, who are worth US$21.4 billion and US$9.9 billion, respectively.

Zhong graduated with an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Jiangsu Normal University in July 1982 and taught chemistry at Yan’an middle school in Lianyungang in the early 1990s, according to the website of All-China Women’s Foundation. She founded Hansoh in 1995.

The company, which researches and produces drugs for six major therapeutic areas, reported 1.9 billion yuan in profit in 2018, an 18 per cent increase from a year earlier, the prospectus shows. The drug maker gets almost half of its revenue from cancer treatments.

Country Garden Holdings co-chairman Yang Huiyan, who is worth US$21.4 billion, is China’s richest woman. Photo: Handout
Country Garden Holdings co-chairman Yang Huiyan, who is worth US$21.4 billion, is China’s richest woman. Photo: Handout

“We believe its R&D will focus on making generics as soon as possible to take the first-mover advantage, a strategy many leading pharma companies applied in the past,” said Zhang Jialin, a Hong Kong-based analyst at ICBC International Research.

Hansoh’s cornerstone investors include Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, and Hillhouse Capital, Asia’s biggest private equity buyer, helping to draw more market interest in Friday’s IPO. Hengrui’s earlier success also may help bolster investor confidence in Hansoh.

“The synergies between Hengrui and Hansoh, particularly in R&D and distribution, will bring the latter advantages over industry competitors,” said Mia He, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.

Source: SCMP

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