Zhong Huijuan quit her job teaching chemistry to teenagers and got into the drug business.
The career switch has paid off handsomely.
Her Hansoh Pharmaceutical Group Co., China’s largest maker of psychotropic drugs, is poised to go public Friday in Hong Kong with a market value of $10.4 billion. Zhong holds a 68% stake, giving her a $7.9 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Zhong, 58, isn’t even the richest person in the family. Her husband Sun Piaoyang, 60, is worth $9.3 billion, thanks to the success of his Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co., a maker of anti-tumor drugs whose stock has returned about 16,300% since it went public in Shanghai almost two decades ago.
They’re poised to be among the world’s richest pharma families, with a combined fortune that rivals the Sacklers, who made a fortune selling opioids, and the Bertarellis of Switzerland.
Health-care spending in China has surged to 5.9 trillion yuan ($853 billion) last year from 3.5 trillion yuan in 2014, and is projected to top 9.4 trillion yuan in 2023, Hansoh said in a prospectus for the offering.
Cen Junda, a long-time investor of the Lianyungang, Jiangsu-based company, is also a billionaire with a stake valued at about $1.7 billion.
Iris Luo, a spokeswoman for Hansoh, declined to comment on their fortunes.
The IPO will make Zhong China’s third-richest woman, after two real estate moguls: Country Garden Holdings Co. co-Chairman Yang Huiyan, and Longfor Group Holdings Chairman Wu Yajun, who are worth $21.4 billion and $10 billion, respectively.
Zhong graduated with an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Jiangsu Normal University in July 1982 and taught chemistry at Yan’an middle school in Lianyungang in the early 1990s, according to the website of All-China Women’s Foundation. She founded Hansoh in 1995.