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The Big Take

Tycoon Whose Bet Broke the Nickel Market Walks Away a Billionaire

Nickel’s ‘Big Shot’ is moving on, but the market is still reeling.

Xiang Guangda, founder of the multibillion-dollar mining and steelmaking empire, Tsingshan Holding Group Co., made a giant bet on a fall in nickel prices that threatened to trigger a Lehman Brothers-like shock through the entire metals industry. 

Xiang Guangda, founder of the multibillion-dollar mining and steelmaking empire, Tsingshan Holding Group Co., made a giant bet on a fall in nickel prices that threatened to trigger a Lehman Brothers-like shock through the entire metals industry. 

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

By 2:08 p.m. Shanghai time on March 8, it was clear that Xiang Guangda’s giant bet on a fall in nickel prices was going spectacularly wrong.

Futures had just skyrocketed above $100,000 a ton and his trade was more than $10 billion underwater. It was threatening not only to bankrupt Xiang’s company, but to trigger a Lehman Brothers-like shock through the entire metals industry and possibly topple the London Metal Exchange itself.