This man lost half his fortune after skipping a meeting

Emma Woollacott
China US Solar Takeover
China US Solar Takeover

One of China's richest men has seen half his fortune wiped out after failing to attend a shareholders' meeting because he 'had something to do'.

Until yesterday, Li Hejun was listed as China's second-richest man by Forbes, with a fortune worth more than $30 billion. But when he failed to attend the shareholders' meeting of solar panel company Hanergy, the company's stock dived, losing $18.6 billion in market value in an hour.

The stock is now suspended from trading 'pending release of an announcement containing inside information'.

Li himself is believed to have lost $14 billion.

A company spokesman told the Financial Times that Li failed to attend the meeting because he 'had something to do'. Instead, he visited an exhibition in Beijing.

Needless to say, this wasn't the first time something had appeared to be wrong. Before yesterday's crash, Hanergy's shares had surged 625% over the past year, peaking at more than $45 billion in April.

Investors, regulators and analysts all questioned the dramatic share rise, and queried how the company was turning a profit. The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission is believed to be investigating.

There have been suspicions of market manipulation - particularly when the company revealed earlier this year that 60% of its sales came from its Beijing-based parent company, Hanergy Holding Group, also chaired by Li. The implication was that the company might be overstating its financial strength.

Li set up Hanergy in 1994 to build hydropower projects and wind farms, but in 2009 the company switched its focus to solar power. In 2012, it acquired Germany's Solibro and California's MiaSole, and now develops thin-film solar panels that can be used as tinted windows on buildings or roofing materials.

"Our Group's operations are normal in all respects and we maintain a good financial position with no overdue loans," the company says in a statement.

"On 20 May 2015, Hanergy Holding Group Chairman Li Hejun attended the opening ceremony of the Hanergy Renewable Energy Exhibition Center in Beijing. It is the world's first exhibition center dedicated to renewable energy, with a solar focus. Mr. Li delivered a speech entitled 'Change the World with Clean Power'."

Hanergy Shares Plunge 47%
Hanergy Shares Plunge 47%

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