Tycoon Loses $15B in 30 Minutes
Li Hejun is no longer China's richest man
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2015 2:10 AM CDT
Li Hejun, chairman and CEO of Hanergy, attends a press conference held at the company's headquarters in Beijing, China.   (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
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(Newser) – Pop goes the bubble: An energy company chief's brief time as the richest person in China ended in a spectacular collapse this week. In a brutal 30 minutes or so of trading on Wednesday, Li Hejun's fortune went down by as much as $500 million a minute as shares in Hanergy Thin Film Power Group nosedived, NBC News reports. Li, who owns 80% of the company, lost about half of his $30 billion fortune before trading in the solar panel firm was halted. The company's shares had soared 664% in the year before this week's crash, causing Li to briefly overtake property tycoon Wang Jianlin and Alibaba chairman Jack Ma as China's richest man, reports the South China Morning Post.

Sources tell Reuters that regulators in Hong Kong have been probing alleged market manipulation involving Hanergy for weeks. Li was absent from the company's annual shareholder meeting, which began just as shares started to fall, reports CNNMoney, which notes that another mysterious stock crash in Hong Kong yesterday wiped out 40% of the share price of two companies controlled by billionaire Pan Sutong. Pan lost $12.7 billion of the $22 billion he made this year, but he tells Bloomberg he's not disturbed by his fall from No. 4 to No. 20 on its Asia wealth list. "A genuinely wealthy person would not count his wealth every day," the property magnate says. (Another Chinese tycoon spent millions treating 6,400 employees to a vacation in France.)