The Qingdao Intermediate People’s Court ordered a three-year freeze on Wang’s 90% stake in Amer Holding, the parent company of Amer International Group, according to Chinese company database Qichacha. The order was issued on October 24, but the reasons for the action were not disclosed in the filing. The court order itself was also not available on China’s official legal database.
In the days following the court’s decision, Wang stepped down as chairman of Shenzhen Amer, a subsidiary of Amer Holding, Qichacha’s filings show. Wang continues to serve as executive director of Amer Holding.
Wang, who was ranked at No.14 with a fortune of $12.7 billion among China’s richest, is now worth substantially less. Based on the new information about the strictures, Forbes estimates his current net worth to be $6.7 billion, after applying a discount to the value of Wang’s shareholding in Amer, which accounts for the bulk of his wealth. Wang did not respond to a request for comment.
Shen Meng, managing director of Beijing-based boutique investment bank Chanson & Co, said that Wang may have failed to repay loans that were secured by pledging his shares in Amer Holding as collateral, prompting creditors to take action.
Amer has been no stranger to controversy in recent years. Local media outlets have reported that the company has a history of overpromising and underperforming on some of its projects. According to Hongxing News, Amer failed to complete an industrial park in the port city of Nantong, a project the company said previously would have a planned 30 billion yuan ($4.1 billion) investment in partnership with the local government.
In recent months, Wang became embroiled in contractual disputes and was temporarily ordered by local courts to refrain from making any extravagant purchases. Chinese courts will often impose such restrictions on people who have defaulted on orders to repay their debts. The orders effectively bar them from making any non-essential purchases. These restrictions imposed on Wang have since been lifted.
Dubbed the “king of copper,” Wang was born in inland China and went to coastal Shenzhen to seek opportunities in 1993 with 400 yuan in his pocket. He set up Amer International in the mid-1990s and has since then grown it into China’s leading copper and cable supplier. The company claims to have generated more than $90 billion of revenue in 2022, with operations spanning Asia, Europe and the U.S.
Wang entered the ranks of China’s richest a decade ago and rose to become China’s fifth richest person with a net worth of $12.1 billion in 2015, the year when he accompanied Chinese President Xi Jinping to the United Nations’ 70th anniversary ceremony summit in New York. His wealth peaked at $18.3 billion in 2021.
Wang is also known to be a close ally of Hui Ka Yan, the founder of embattled property developer China Evergrande. Amer in 2017 agreed to buy a 1.2% stake in an Evergrande unit for 5 billion yuan, and in 2020, Wang was photographed at an Evergrande signing ceremony for a placement agreement that helped the real estate developer get through a cash crunch at the time.
—With assistance by Yue Wang