Just a few months ago, Zhou Yahui and his wife, Li Qiong, were named to the list of Chinese power couples under 40. Well, a lot can happen in just a few months. For this billionaire couple, the days of wine and roses are long gone and Zhou is paying out an enormous settlement to his soon to be ex-wife. In fact, when all is said and done, this will be one of China's costliest divorce settlements ever and cost him half of his estimated $2.2 billion net worth!
Zhou is the founder of Beijing Kunlun Tech and made his fortune by distributing Chinese online games abroad. Overseas sales of his games account for roughly ¾ of his total business. Last year, Zhou swiped right last year when he acquired a 60% stake in the gay dating app Grindr for $93 million.
As part of his divorce settlement, Zhou agreed to transfer 278 million shares of Beijing Kunlun Tech to his ex-wife. The shares are worth $1.1 billion based on yesterday's closing price on the Chinese stock exchange. Zhou has a 34.5% stake in his company. He will retain control of the company after the transfer of the shares.
Zhou's company has been diversifying from its gaming core of late. Last year, Kunlun Tech invested in the lending startup LendInvest. The company is also part of the consortium of Chinese companies that agreed to buy the Norwegian browser Opera for $600 million in July. Opera has more than 300 million monthly users. Controlling a browser will provide a traffic boost to Kunlun's other business interests. Grindr, which hosts about 2 million daily visitors from 196 countries, offers Zhou a very lucrative niche he can use to dominate in the social space.
The divorce will not affect Kunlun's operations or the operations of Grindr, according to a spokeswoman.
Once upon a time, the divorce was rare in China. Today, 2.8% of the population is divorced, up from 1.7% in 2008.