China's former richest woman is transferring more than half of her personal stake in a property services operation to a family charity, as her real estate empire continues to grapple with the fallout from the country's property crisis.
Yang Huiyan, chair of Country Garden Services Holdings Company, is giving about 55% of her personal stake in the property management firm to a charity founded by her sister, according to a statement Sunday.
Yang is China's third richest woman with a fortune of almost $7 billion, and the value of the stake involved is about $826 million as of Friday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The 41-year-old tycoon will keep hold of the voting rights as she seeks to maintain the stability of corporate governance. The charity foundation, Guoqiang Public Welfare Foundation, "irrevocably and unconditionally undertakes" to Yang that it will hold the shares for 10 years, according to the statement.
The charity pledged not to sell shares within a decade, according to a company statement.
"We view this announcement as negative" for share prices, UBS analysts led by John Lam said in a research report on Monday. "The timing of the donation seems unusual to us, due to the recent market discussion on the liquidity situation" for the main property operation.
Country Garden Holdings Co., one of China's largest private developers that's also chaired by Yang, warned of a net loss in the first half due to declining profit margins and impairments.
Guoqiang Public Welfare Foundation (Hong Kong) Ltd., the entity to receive the gifted shares, was incorporated on June 13, according to the Hong Kong Companies Registry. Another mainland entity, Guoqiang Foundation was founded in 2013, according to its website.
Once considered a safer investment among developers, Country Garden has become a proxy for financial contagion in an industry that accounts for about a quarter of the country's gross domestic product. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded the property developer last week as liquidity concerns surrounding China's private builders are unlikely to ease anytime soon.
Once Asia's richest woman at her wealth peak, Yang has seen her fortune slump 80% from $34 billion in about two years, according to Bloomberg's wealth index.