Jack Ma returns as China's richest

Oct 11, 2018|By Huang Yixuan

JACK Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder and executive chairman, has dethroned real estate tycoon and Evergrande boss Xu Jiayin as the richest man in China, according to the 2018 Hurun China Rich List which was released yesterday.

With US$39 billion in wealth, Ma, 54, pushed Xu, 60, to second place whose net worth was US$36 billion.

This year, only 1,893 individuals made the cut, down 11 percent from 2,130 individuals last year. It was the first big drop in the size of the list since 2012.

A 20 percent drop in the stock market “resulted in 456 drop-offs this year, the highest since records began 20 years ago,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report.

“This year, entrepreneurs from 34 listed companies had their shares frozen,” he said.

“Wealth in China is becoming more concentrated. The wealth of the Hurun Top 10, for example, accounted for 10 percent of the total wealth on the list, and that of the Top 200 accounted for half of the total wealth on the list,” Hoogewerf said.

Ma and his family shot back to top for the second time in four years. Ma’s wealth increased by US$10 billion to US$39 billion this year on the back of a higher valuation of Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate that looks after the firm’s Alipay service.

Ma recently announced plans to retire, and follow in the footsteps of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and devote time and energy to philanthropy.

Tencent’s co-founder and CEO Pony Ma was third with US$35 billion.

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun’s wealth shot up the fastest by 62 percent to US$16 billion to break into the top 10.

There were 219 new faces led by 38-year-old Colin Huang Zheng of e-commerce giant Pinduoduo at 13th with US$14 billion.

Five new faces shot straight into the Hurun Top 100. Others include “battery king” Zeng Yuqun of CATL, a battery maker for the electric-car industry, and “blockchain king” Zhan Ketuan of Bitmain.

“The scalability of the market coupled with a strong investor ecosystem is creating big new businesses fast,” Hoogewerf said.

On the other end, however, Wu Gang and Huang Xiaojie, both of JD Capital, saw their wealth drop by 85 percent; Meitu’s Wu Xinhong and Cai Wensheng’s share was eroded by over 50 percent; Jiang Bin and wife Hu Shuangmei of acoustic component maker GoerTek saw their wealth drop by over 50 percent; and last year’s self-made richest women “touchscreen queen” Zhou Qunfei and her husband Zheng Junlong saw their wealth shrink by 45 percent.

Gone from the list are chemical industry magnate Zhu Shuangquan, lighting titan Zhang Yutao and electric component makers Zhong Xiaoping and wife Liu Qiuxiang, all of whom have seen their companies’ share prices sink this year.

The Hurun Top 10 created seven Fortune Global 500 companies — Alibaba, Evergrande, Tencent, Country Garden, Midea, China Pacific Construction and Amer.

By industry, 60 percent made their wealth from the Big Four industries — manufacturing, real estate, financial investments and Internet technology.

Manufacturing has been the main source of wealth for the past five years, although the number of individuals from this sector dropped slightly to 26.1 percent from last year’s 27.9 percent, on the back of the US-China trade war.

Real estate, which used to be the top wealth creator for the first 15 years of the list, came in second, edging up from 14.6 percent to 14.9 percent.

Finance and investments overtook IT, with investments up from 10.9 percent to 11.6 percent, while IT fell from 11.8 percent to 10.3 percent.

New energy, food, clothing and apparel, as well as retail all edged up, while natural resources, culture and entertainment, as well as agriculture edged down.

The number of women in the list accounted for 28.7 percent, a record high since the list began 20 years ago. Yang Huiyan of Country Garden remained the richest woman in China with net worth US$22 billion.

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