Several of China’s wealthiest tycoons were spotted among the crowd attending the Communist Party’s centenary celebrations in the capital, providing a sigh of relief for traders who are betting on at least a couple of them.
Hui Ka-yan, the 63-year-old chairman of China Evergrande – at one stage the world’s most indebted property developer, was seen in the crowd. Hui, also known as Xu Jiayin in China, is estimated to be worth US$17.3 billion, as the 17th wealthiest businessman in China. Evergrande, one of the largest Chinese real estate builders by revenue, is under government pressure to cut its debt levels.
Wang Xing, the 42-year-old chairman of Meituan, the food delivery giant that is currently the subject of an antitrust probe, was among attendees of the Party’s 100th anniversary celebrations at Tiananmen Square on Thursday morning, according to live television footage. Wang is China’s 43rd richest man according to Hurun Report, with his fortunes estimated at US$34 billion.
The sight of wealthy capitalists at the Communist Party’s most important event this year shows how the party of the proletariat has changed over the course of a century. China’s parliament features more billionaires as legislators than anywhere else in the world, with the combined wealth of the 2021 sessions worth US$391 billion according to Hurun, more than Hong Kong’s economy.
Their appearance at such a high-level gathering, in which Chinese President and party chief Xi Jinping delivered the keynote speech, will be seen as a signal that top policymakers are softening their stance towards the two companies. That should restore some confidence in the companies’ battered stocks.
Hong Kong-traded shares of Meituan have shed almost 30 per cent of their value since February amid the investigation into alleged monopolistic practices
, while the stock of China Evergrande has tumbled 32 per cent this year as the developer grapples to clear its debt mountain.
“Typically, the attendees are meticulously picked for such an important political event, not randomly,” said Dai Ming, a money manager at Huichen Asset Management in Shanghai. “It makes sense to guess that there may be some political intention behind it.”
Meituan and China Evergrande’s shares do not have an immediate chance to react, as the Hong Kong market where the two are listed is shut for the handover day on Thursday. The Shanghai Composite Index of Chinese domestic stocks swung between gains and losses, finishing the day 0.1 per cent down.
Lei Jun, the billionaire founder of smartphone maker Xiaomi, was also among notable Chinese entrepreneurs who joined the centenary ceremony, posting about his participation on the Weibo social media platform. Lei, 52 this year, is China’s 50th richest man, with a net worth estimated at US$31 billion according to Hurun.
Invitations to China’s major political events usually bode well for stock prices. On the occasion of the 2019 military parade marking the 70th anniversary of Communist-ruled China, shares of Xiaomi, Gree Electric Appliances and China Evergrande rose by at least 2.8 per cent in the month preceding the event. Xiaomi’s Lei, Gree’s chairwoman Dong Mingzhu and China Evergrande’s Hui were guests of the event that year.
Three of Hong Kong’s business elite made their way to Beijing to attend the ruling party’s centenary. They were Yuen Mo, chairman of privately held China Merchants Industry Holdings, Victor Fung the chairman of the Fung Group that took Li & Fung private last year, and Allan Zeman, chairman of unlisted Lan Kwai Fong Holdings. Zeman, 72, is also chairman of Wynn Macau, one of the casino operators in the world’s largest gambling hub.