Ex-wife of 'vaccine emperor' becomes a billionaire after divorce

Canadian ex-wife of China’s ‘vaccine emperor’ becomes a billionaire overnight after the tycoon gave her £2.6billion worth of shares in one of world’s most expensive divorces

  • Tycoon Du Weimin, 56, gave nearly half of his stocks from his company to his ex
  • Chinese-born Yuan Liping, 49, saw her fortune rocketing due to the settlement
  • Mr Du, a self-made vaccine mogul, ranked the 81st on the China Rich List 2019  

The ex-wife of a Chinese biotech tycoon has seen her wealth rocket overnight after receiving some £2.6billion worth of shares from her former partner in one of the world’s most costly break-ups.

Canadian-Chinese Yuan Liping, 49, became a multi-billionaire after recently ending her marriage with 56-year-old magnate Du Weimin, who is dubbed the ‘vaccine emperor’ of China.

Mr Du, who was worth £5.3billion, gave nearly half of his stocks from his vaccine manufacturer to his ex-wife, instantly making her one of the richest women in China.

Vaccine tycoon Du Weimin (file photo) transferred more than 161.3million shares of his company to his ex-wife Yuan Liping after the couple had agreed to divorce, a statement said

Mr Du, the chairman of Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products, transferred more than 161.3million shares to Ms Yuan, according to a statement released by the company on May 29. 

Each Kangtai stock was worth 140.78 yuan (£15.8, $19.8) as of Monday’s close, making the total value of the settlement a whopping 22.7billion yuan (£2.6billion, $3.2billion).

Mr Du owned 51.26 per cent of the company’s shares before passing 23.99 per cent of the firm’s total to his ex-wife, according to China’s Securities Times. 

Mr Du, the chairman of Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products, spoke to state-run CCTV

Kangtai’s statement said that Ms Yuan did not seek to have control over the company and delegated the voting rights to Mr Du.

Ms Yuan, who lives in Shenzhen, keeps a low profile and rarely appears on media.

She served as a director of Kangtai between May 2011 and August 2018, reported Bloomberg. She is said to be the current vice general manager of subsidiary Beijing Minhai Biotechnology. 

Mr Du, a self-made mogul, gained his business success by being a major producer of the Hepatitis B vaccine in the country.

He ranked the 81st on the China Rich List 2019 by Forbes. 

Mr Du amassed his wealth by being producing the Hepatitis B vaccine in China (file photo)

The tycoon was born in 1963 to an impoverished farming family in the southern province of Jiangxi.

He started studying in a local health school in 1984 and got his first job as an inspector at the Jiangxi Provincial Health and Epidemic Prevention Station in 1987.

His fate changed when he quit his job at the state-run health station to become a vaccine salesman in the 1990s. In 1995, he was promoted to be a sales manager for a biotech company. 

He stepped into the chairman’s role in Kangtai in 2009 after the firm acquired Minhai, a company Mr Du had founded five years earlier.

Mr Du and Ms Yuan’s dissolution of marriage has been one of the most expensive break-ups in China.

The world’s most expensive divorce settlement was agreed upon between Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife MacKenzie, who ended their 26 years of marriage last year

Local media outlets have compared it to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s divorce, though the latter involved a much higher settlement.

Mr Bezos, the world’s richest man, and his wife MacKenzie agreed upon their divorce in April 2019.

Mr Bezos kept 75 per cent of their joint $144billion (£115billion) Amazon stake, leaving MacKenzie with a quarter which represented a four per cent stake in the company worth $35.8billion (£28billion) at the time.


1. MacKenize Bezos ($36 BILLION)

The soon to be ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is being rewarded for her decades of loyalty with a settlement that gives her 25 percent of the couple’s Amazon stock. Far less then the 50 percent she is legally entitled too, but far more than any other spouse has received in a divorce. As a result, she is now the 22nd richest person in the world. The novelist was married to Bezos for 26 years, and by his side when he launched Amazon from their garage.

2. Jocelyn Wildenstein ($2.5 BILLION)

Cat-astrophe: Wildenstein is bankrupt

The Swiss-born socialite was the cat that got the milk in the years after her art dealer husband Alec paid out their record settlement.  She then managed to squander that money thanks in large part to her love for cosmetic procedures and her affinity for domesticating rare animals. Last May, Wildenstein filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection according to federal court papers which were obtained by DailyMail.com. It was a shocking turn of events for Wildenstein, who first became a fixture in the New York press around the time of her split as she bragged about the high costs of her lavish lifestyle and penchant for plastic surgery.Two decades later, the woman who once purchased a capuchin monkey as a pet finds herself with no checking or savings accounts, no retirement fund or pension plans and no investments according to her filing.

Anna-mosity: Rupert Murdoch poses with his wife Anna Murdoch and their children Lachlan Murdoch ,James Murdoch and Elisabeth Murdoch at their home in 1989

3. Anna Murdoch ($1.7 BILLION)

The woman who was by Murdoch’s  side as he rose to the top of the media world received a small portion of his fortune after their 1999 divorce. It was a shocking split to their children Elizabeth, Lachlan and James, especially when it was learned that their father had been having an affair with soon-to-be-fourth wife Wendi Deng.  That all came to a head at Lachlan’s wedding to wife Sarah, with Anna informing her estranged husband that his new wife was not  to attend the nuptials. Deng and Murdoch married almost immediately after he finalised his divorce from his second wife.

4. Slavica Ecclestone ($1.2 BILLION)

High and lows: The Ecclestones in 2005

The Croatian model split from her business magnate beau after 23 years of marriage in 2009, and walked off with a sizable chunk of the Formula One chief’s fortune.  That union lasted longer than many initially imagined it would in account of the couple’s difference in age (28 years) and height (Slavica is a foot taller than Bernie). Slavica also spoke no English, while Bernie only spoke English. The couple welcomed two daughters during their marriage, Tamara and Petra, who have also made waves with some of the biog purchases they have made with their father’s money. Petra notably bought the former residence of Aaron and Candy Spelling in Beverly Hills, which for a time was the largest private home in the United States. In the wake of that split, Bernie married a younger and shorter woman.

5. Elaine Wynn ($1 BILLION)

Wynn-fall: Steve Wynn (above in 2012) gave his wife $1 billion but with very specific instructions as to what she could do with stock

Elaine Wynn helped her husband Steve build his empire, and she was sure to take some of it with her when she left.  Her role in the company  has been vital ever since, and on Thursday she was in Massachusetts testifying about her split and why she failed to disclose a settlement her husband made with a woman who accused him of sexual assault.

6. Sue Ann Arnall ($974.8 BILLION)

Check please: Hamm and Arnall in 2012

The wife of Harold Hamm is pushed out of the top five with the addition of Bezos, but still made her mark thanks to her ex-husband paying out his entire settlement in one single check. Arnall had appealed that ruling but lost because she had cashed the check. In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled in favor of a motion filed by Hamm, chief executive officer of oil company Continental Resources Inc, to dismiss Arnall’s appeal. Earlier that month, Arnall had cashed Hamm’s check for $975 million, the vast majority of the lower court’s award in the case.The majority of the justices said Arnall also took possession of the marital property awarded to her. Those actions, the court ruled, caused her to forfeit her right to appeal the judgment.

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