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March 1, 2013

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China ranks 2nd for billionaires

CHINA has the second largest number of dollar billionaires after the United States, most of them involved in property, according to the Hurun Global Rich List issued yesterday.

Hurun, a China-based magazine, said there were 1,453 dollar billionaires as of January 17, 409 based in the US and 357 in China.

Asia had 608 billionaires, overtaking North America's 440 for the first time. Europe has 324.

US business magazine Forbes, which usually publishes a global wealth list in early March, said in its 2012 edition that the Asia-Pacific region had 315 billionaires, compared to 450 from North America and 310 in Europe.

Mexican energy tycoon Carlos Slim, 73, continues to top the Hurun list with personal assets of over US$66 billion.

Hong Kong-based business magnate Li Ka-shing, 84, is China's, and Asia's, richest person with US$32 billion.

In second and third place in China in the Hurun list are Lee Shau Kee, 85, with US$23 billion, and Thomas Kwok, 62, and Raymond Kwok, 61, and family, with US$20 billion. All are Hong Kong-based property tycoons.

Zong Qinghou, 67, owner of beverage company Wahaha Group, is the richest person on China's mainland with US$13 billion.

Property developers dominate China's billionaires with nearly a third of them coming from the real estate industry, the report said.

"In China we've seen a huge urbanization boom and that has created a lot of wealth in property," Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun report, told AFP.

The trend was in line with a recovery of home sales and prices last year.

National Statistics Bureau data showed that between January and December last year, the value of new home purchases, excluding government-funded apartments, jumped 10.9 percent from 2011 to 5.34 trillion yuan (US$847 billion) across the country. More than 984.6 million square meters of new residential properties were sold in 2012.

Zong and Wang Jianlin, 59, of property developer Wanda, with US$12.5 billion, were the only mainlanders to make it into the global top 100.

The wealth of the top 10 richest people in the world rose 22 percent from a year ago, or by US$250 million a day, the report said.

"This past year has seen a rebound in the wealth of private sector," the report said. "Stock markets in the US have risen and the US dollar has got stronger."

The Hurun report estimated the total wealth of the world's dollar billionaires at US$5.5 trillion, roughly the size of China's gross domestic product last year.

Warren Buffett, 82, is up one place to second on the back of a US$10 billion increase in his wealth to US$58 billion.

Amancio Ortega, 76, was third after his fortune rose by US$20 billion to US$54 billion powered by expansion of the Zara brand.

Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg, 28, and Dustin Moskovitz, 29, are the youngest self-made billionaires.

Hurun estimates there are more than 4,000 dollar billionaires in the world when hidden wealth is taken into consideration.


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