Chinese billionaire Wang Jing, whose company, HKND Group, holds a 50-year concession to build the US$50bn Nicaragua Canal, has lost 84% of his net worth this year, raising yet more doubts about the project’s viability.
According to Bloomberg, Wang was worth as much as US$10.2bn in June 2015, placing himself amongst the world’s 200 richest people, but his wealth has since plummeted to US$1.1bn, coinciding with falls in Chinese equity markets.
In September, HKND’s vice-president, Peng Guowei, confirmed that Wang has committed US$500m of his personal wealth into the project since 2013 when HKND Group was awarded the concession for the 274 km canal.
Daniel Wagner, CEO of Country Risk Solutions and a former country risk manager at General Electric, told Bloomberg: “The turn of fortune in Mr. Wang’s financial resources will impact how and whether the canal can and will be built.”
“I would expect, given this year’s financial gyrations in China, that the government is also asking itself whether the canal is a viable proposition.”
Bill Wild, HKND’s chief adviser for the canal, responded to say “I have no doubt that appropriate financial arrangements will be in place before construction commences.”
Wang owns 35% of publicly traded Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology Group, which has lost 57% of its value this year.
The telecoms businessman pledged Xinwei shares valued at $2.4bn in July that were removed from his net worth calculation.
Last week, Nicaraguan authorities said that the start of canal construction work was postponed until at least early 2016 due to environmental concerns.