How China's richest man Li Hejun lost $15bn in an hour - and made a fortune


Alexander Ward
Monday 25 May 2015 11:45
Mr Li increased his short position in the company by 796 million shares
Mr Li increased his short position in the company by 796 million shares

It was the remarkable story of how China's richest man lost $15bn in a single hour.

Or so we thought. Turns out, Li Hejun didn't have quite the bad day everyone thought he did.

On 20 May, the chairman of solar panel firm Hanergy, whose astonishing rise in fortunes over the past few months has confounded experts, lost $15bn when shares in the company fell 47 per cent.

Now it has emerged that Mr Li had bet against his own company's fortunes - increasing his "short" in Hanergy by 796 million shares on 18 May, just two days before the company nosedived.

The news comes as Hong Kong regulators were revealed to have been investigating allegations of market manipulation in Hanergy shares for several weeks.

Mr Li, who owns 80 per cent of Hanergy, also bought another 26.4 million shares on 18 May

So-called “short sellers” bet on a fall in a share price, making a profit if the price drops.

Prior to the crash on 20 May, the company’s share price had increased by over 600 per cent in the last year.

On the day his stock price dived, Mr Li did not attend the company’s annual general meeting in Hong Kong, instead opting to attend an opening ceremony of a new company centre in Beijing.

The meteoric rise of the Hanergy to the top of the market had already prompted questions among market watchers before a source revealed to Reuters that the Hong Kong watchdog was investigating Hanergy.

Questions over the company’s stock market value have mounted since it emerged that 60 per cent of its sales came from its parent company, Hanergy holding group, which Mr Li is also chairman of.

Hanergy has so far not commented on the loss and its shares remain suspended from trading in Hong Kong.

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