Fortunes tumble from Seattle to Shenzhen in US$135 billion wipeout

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(Sept 21): A global rout in stock markets sparked by concerns over China Evergrande Group hit the world’s biggest fortunes Monday, with the richest 500 people losing a combined US$135 billion.

Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk led the declines as his world-leading net worth fell US$7.2 billion to US$198 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. No. 2 Jeff Bezos, the founder of Seattle-based Inc., lost US$5.6 billion, paring his fortune to US$194.2 billion.  

A cash crunch at Evergrande, China’s most indebted developer, and a regulatory crackdown on the nation’s real estate market stoked fears about possible financial contagion. Markets also reacted to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s warning of economic catastrophe if lawmakers fail to raise the debt ceiling.

The S&P 500 tumbled 1.7%, the most since May.

Evergrande founder and Chairman Hui Ka Yan continued his precipitous drop in Bloomberg’s wealth ranking as the company’s shares fell to their lowest in a decade. His fortune now stands at US$7.3 billion, down from a peak of US$42 billion in 2017.

Hong Kong’s biggest property developers led some of the sharpest losses on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index. Property billionaires Lee Shau-Kee, Yang Huiyan, Li Ka-Shing and Henry Cheng shed more than US$6 billion combined.

Colin Huang, the founder of e-commerce platform Pinduoduo Inc., has lost US$29.4 billion this year, more than anyone else in China, including US$2.3 billion on Monday.