Grindr billionaire loses assets in costly divorce
A sure thing?
As every week brings news of the breakup of yet another celebrity couple, it seems as if only a minority of relationships are fated to go the distance. And while we might envy the lifestyles of the rich and famous most of the time, few would want to see their – very messy and costly – divorces played out in public.
In a case that’s not without irony, given his recent acquisition of a controlling stake in gay dating app Grindr, Chinese billionaire Zhou Yahui has been ordered to transfer stock worth more than a billion US dollars to his wife in one of China’s biggest divorce settlements to date. A Beijing court ruled that Mr Zhou had to give Li Qiang 278 million shares in online gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech, carrying a market value of around $1.1bn.
Before the split, Mr Zhou and Ms Li enjoyed a combined wealth of $3.5 billion. Under Chinese law, property accumulated after the marriage by either partner is considered common property, although assets held before the marriage are treated separately.
Par for the course
The divorce rate in China has seen a sharp rise in the last few years, climbing from 1.7% of the population in 2008 to 2.8% in 2015. While Mr Zhou’s settlement is anything but small change, it’s still dwarfed by the payout made by Wu Yajun, chairwoman of Hong-Kong-based Longfor Properties. Ms Wu had to relinquish her title as China’s richest woman after settling company shares to the value of $2 billion, in 2012.
In a similar case, Wang Wei, founder of Chinese online video platform Tudou, was forced to postpone his company’s bid for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq stock exchange after his ex-wife was successful in her bid to have the shares frozen. Following Mr Wang’s subsequent $7 million settlement, Tudou’s IPO hit a much lower price point.
The game’s not over
Mr Zhou started Kunlen Tech as a graduate student at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University. The company paid $155 million for a 60% stake in Grindr earlier this year, in a bid to leverage the platform to draw traffic to its gaming properties.
In the wake of the divorce settlement, Ms Li will own a 26.4% stake, while chairman Mr Zhou, will retain the largest shareholding at 34.5%.
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