Following Hansoh’s recent IPO in Hong Kong, CEO Zhong Huijuan and husband Sun Piaoyang, CEO of Jiangsu Hengrui, are now officially the wealthiest couple in China. Sun, a former high school chemistry teacher, and Zhong, a former factory technician, overtake Robin Li, founder of Chinese search engine giant Baidu, and his wife, to claim the number one spot.


On June 14, Hansoh Pharmaceutical, founded in 1995 and headquartered in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, raised one billion dollars in a groundbreaking IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Shares in Hansoh were up 22 percent at the end of the listing’s first day, boosting the value of her stake in the firm to USD 9.7 billion. Her husband, Sun Piaoyang holds a USD 9.4 billion stake in Jiangsu Hengrui. The IPO made Zhong China’s third-richest woman overall.


Zhong is a former chemistry teacher who left the teaching profession and worked her way up at Hansoh to become CEO of the company in 2001.  Her husband worked his way up from technician at Lianyungang Pharmaceutical, a state-run chemical factory, eventually leading the company to develop anti-tumour drugs in the 1990s and changing its name to Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Company.


The two companies have benefited handsomely from China’s rapidly growing pharmaceutical industry. Hansoh’s revenue jumped nearly 30 percent over a two-year period, from USD 785 million in 2016 to USD 1.12 billion in 2018, and net profits increased 22 percent over the same period. While both companies focus on cancer treatments, Hansoh has a broader portfolio of which only half is comprised of oncology and CNS drugs; others include anti-infectives, as well as treatments for diabetes, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases.


Hansoh has marketed more than 30 generic drugs in China. In the recent “4+7” procurement program initiated by the Chinese government, Hansoh’s generic mental disorder therapy Zyprexa (olanzapine) and leukaemia drug Gleevec (imatinib) won out over foreign competitors to receive public hospital contracts in 11 cities.


Picture: Zhong Huijian. Source: Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.