China’s richest young couple are embroiled in the country’s most expensive divorce, with almost £1.7 billion worth of assets being divided between the pair, reports say.
Zhou Yahui and his wife Li Qiong are China’s most affluent couple under the age of 40 with shared assets of 23bn yuan (£2.6bn), according to the Hurun Report, which tracks wealth among the country’s super rich.
The pair made their fortune through their control of high-flying Beijing Kunlun Tech, a gaming company which has transformed itself into one of China’s most ambitious Internet conglomerates.
The company said in a statement on its website that billions of shares would be transferred from 39-year-old Mr Zhou to Mrs Li, aged 38, leading to speculation that the couple are set to separate.
(This) could create the country’s most expensive divorce case, said Shanghai Securities News, which is run by the official Xinhua News Agency.
The value of the equity transfer will reach seven billion yuan, meaning the listed companies will basically be divided in half by the couple.
The report said the share transfer represented a payment from Mr Zhou to Ms Li totaling 7.54bn yuan (£847mn), which would put the reported separation among the most expensive in history.
The previous most expensive divorce in China was worth 2.4bn yuan, the Shanghai Securities News added.
A Geneva court made an award of $4.5bn (£2.6bn) to the ex-wife of Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev during the couple’s separation in 2014, a divorce which many observers say was the world’s most expensive.
Bernie Ecclestone’s former wife Slavica received a settlement of $1.2bn (£740m) in 2008, in a case which made legal history in the UK.
Divorce rates are soaring in China, with more than 3.8 million last year, an increase from 2.5 million in 2009 and 1.2 million in 2000, according to official statistics.
The costs of separation are often borne disproportionately by women, who rarely receive an equal share of property and finance.
The Telegraph was unable to reach Mr Zhou and Ms Li with repeated calls to Beijing Kunlun Tech.
Additional reporting by Christine Wei.
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