How a chemistry teacher became Asia's richest woman worth $10.5 billion

SCMP

  • Zhong Huijuan, an ex-chemistry teacher has become Asia’s wealthiest self-made woman — with a fortune worth $10.5 billion.
  • This fortune came from a sudden surge in the shares (37%) of the Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group. Zhong has a 68% stake in the company.
  • Zhong surpassed her husband in terms of wealth — the couple is now one of the richest pharma families in the world.
Zhong Huijuan, a 58-year-old ex-chemistry teacher, became the wealthiest self-made woman in Asia, and the second-richest woman in Asia after Yang Huiyan, the co-chairman of Country Garden Holdings.

According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Huijuan is worth $10.5 billion — thanks to her investments in Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group. In 1995, Zhong ventured into the drug business Hansoh, quitting her teaching profession. The transition has paid off, very well.

Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group is presently China’s largest psychotropic drug maker. On Friday, the sudden surge in shares — 37% — of the pharmaceutical company, made her the wealthiest self-made woman in Asia. Her stake in the company is at 68% — which added $7.9 billion to her fortune.

Zhong surpassed her husband Sun Piaoyang in terms of wealth — who is worth $9.2 billion — he earned in Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co, also a drug manufacturer.

This recent surge has made the couple one of the richest pharma families of the world. They are now in close competition with Mortimer and Raymond Sackler of Purdue Pharma, which manufacturers OxyContin. Also in the list are Sweedish Bertarelli family which earned $16.3 billion fortune from drugs and pharmaceuticals.

The government of China has contributed largely to Zhong’s success. Last year, the country’s healthcare spending increased to 5.9 trillion yuan ($852 billion) from 3.5 trillion yuan in 2014.

According to the All China Women’s Foundation, Zhong used to teach Chemistry in a middle-school in the 1990s — which she quit to get into the drug business.

The company is into cancer treatment, research and production of drugs for the treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases.

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