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October 16, 2015

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China tops US in creating dollar billionaires

CHINA created more dollar billionaires than the United States this year for the first time, with real estate tycoon Wang Jianlin snatching back the title of the richest man on the Chinese mainland from Alibaba’s Jack Ma, according to the Hurun Rich List 2015 released yesterday.

With 220 billion yuan (US$34.4 billion) in personal assets, the 61-year-old founder and CEO of Wanda ranks first among 596 dollar billionaires on the mainland, a club that had 242 new members this year despite the economic downturn.

With 119 billionaires from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, there are now 715 dollar billionaires in China, compared to 537 in the US, according to the most recent Hurun Global Rich List.

Above the 2 billion yuan cut-off point for inclusion on the Chinese mainland rich list are 1,877 individuals, up 606 from last year.

“A conflicting fact here is that China is slowing down its growth, and yet creating the ultra rich at its fastest speed in our 17 years of research,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun’s chairman and chief researcher.

“The biggest money-spinner is the capital market, which pumped up company values following their initial public offerings and market consolidation.”

Hurun did its calculations on August 14. Even after a more than 30 percent plunge from their June peak, the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets were by then significantly higher in value, by 80 percent and 70 percent respectively, than when the 2014 rich list was compiled. The Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s NASDAQ-style board, ChiNext, even doubled in value for a second year running.

Wang saw a 52 percent increase in his wealth, mainly because of a nearly 10-fold rise in the market value of his newly listed cinema chain. Ma fell to second place after his wealth dropped 3 percent to 145 billion yuan on the back of Alibaba’s share price.

Real estate, a traditional wealth generator, saw its share of the list drop to 16.1 percent, a sign of the country’s economic transformation toward a growth model propped up by new investment targets, such as IT entrepreneurship and manufacturing upgrades, according to Hurun.

They are now the biggest source of new wealth on the Chinese mainland, and 90 percent of them are companies listed domestically, it said.

Replacing property queen Chen Lihua as the richest woman on the Chinese mainland is Zhou Qunfei, 45, the touchscreen queen. She shot straight into the top 20 on the list after her company Lens, which supplies Apple and Samsung, went public in China on the ChiNext board, She ranks 17th on the list with assets valued at 50 billion yuan.

Leading the younger rich group is Wang Tao, 35, the drone king. His personal worth is estimated to have reached 22 billion yuan based on a recent round of investment that values his Dajiang Innovation (DJI), a Shenzhen-based drone manufacturer, at US$10 billion.

Alongside him is Cheng Wei, 32, of taxi-hailing and car-hiring app Didi-Kuaidi, whose assets amounted to 6.5 billion yuan after his Didi business merged with rival Kuaidi to create a company valued at more than US$10 billion.


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