Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi own one of China’s largest commercial real estate empires. The couple moved most of their wealth out of China before the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tightened controls causing the real estate market to crash. In 2013, CNN interviewed Zhang Xin, who said she started from zero and became wealthier than Trump or Oprah.

Zhang Xin and her husband, Pan Shiyu, developed Soho China into one of the most powerful corporations in China. They own a secretive family office called Seven Valleys. They also own shares in two iconic buildings in New York, the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue Plaza in Midtown Manhattan.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the combined value of these two properties is about $500 million, equivalent to the value of the shares they hold in Soho.

Zhang and Pan’s story is a highlight example of how China’s rich prepare for a crisis.

They have a five-part strategy:

  • Build a successful business in China.
  • List it on foreign exchange.
  • Pay billions of dollars in dividends.
  • Set up a family office abroad.
  • Buy real estate overseas.

Four close sources revealed that the factor that helped “preserve” their wealth was the decision to list Soho in Hong Kong in 2007 instead of in China. In addition, Goldman Sachs has underwritten their initial public offering (IPO). In an IPO, a privately owned company lists its shares on a stock exchange, making them available for purchase by the general public.

Unlike in the mainland, where there are strict quotas on capital outflows, assets in Hong Kong are “moved” more freely and are used to buy assets abroad.

The couple’s family office assets, staff, and reporting records were all in the United States.

The founders of Soho mushrooms hold a 20% stake in the General Motors Building. In 2011, they also bought a 49% stake in Park Avenue Plaza.

Pan and Zhang stepped down as chairman and chief executive officer of Soho in September this year.

However, billionaires in the same business in China face many difficulties.

China Evergrande founder, Hui Ka Yan, has lost more than $30 billion since 2020.

Sun Hongbin of Sunac China is working on a restructuring deal after the company defaulted on USD bonds.

Zhang and Pan are now US citizens. They are often photographed attending popular social and sporting events. Both are senior fellows at Harvard University and well-known philanthropists.

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.