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November 6, 2009

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Home » Business » Finance

Stock jump drives mainland rich list

THE combined wealth of the 40 richest people on the Chinese mainland more than doubled to US$106 billion this year from US$52 billion in 2008, thanks to the country's booming stock market, Forbes China reported yesterday.

Electric car maker Wang Chuanfu topped the magazine's annual rich list, rising from the 23rd spot last year. He also was No. 1 on the 2009 Hurun rich list released earlier.

"China's capital market has performed strongly this year with recovered market sentiment and improved corporate earnings, reflecting the effectiveness of the government's proactive economic policy," said Russell Flannery, Forbes' Shanghai bureau chief.

Agricultural feed tycoon Liu Yongxing took the second position followed by Zong Qinghou, chairman of beverage giant Wahaha Group.

On the Hurun mainland rich list, Zhang Yin, controlling shareholder of Hong Kong-listed Nine Dragons Paper, and Xu Rongmao, chairman of Shanghai-based property developer Shimao Group, took the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.

Forbes calculated public assets using share prices and exchange rates as of October 16 while Hurun calculations, compiled by Rupert Hoogewerf, who used to work for Forbes, were based on September figures.

China's key stock index jumped more than 50 percent in the year ending October 16. The rebound came after the government began massive stimulus spending and state-owned commercial banks extended record loans to bolster economic growth.

Wang, 43, chairman of electric car and battery maker BYD Co, saw his wealth jump nearly sixfold, when his shares in the company, which attracted investment by US billionaire Warren Buffet, soared by the same factor.

New faces

The strong stock markets also helped propel new faces toward the top of Forbes' list of the 400 richest mainlanders.

The highest ranking newcomer was Liu Zhongtian, who jumped from 130th place last year to No. 8 this year with net wealth of US$3.79 billion.

Liu's aluminum products maker China Zhongwang raised US$1.3 billion in an April initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Officials from Forbes China said it was too bad they could not include the effects of the country's new Nasdaq-like market, which started trading on October 30.

Domestic media reports have said the Shenzhen-based board, called ChiNext, created 13 billionaires on its first trading day after most stocks doubled their IPO price.

The threshold for the mainland's richest 400 rose to a record high of 2 billion yuan (US$300 million), rebounding from a low of 1.2 billion yuan last year that reflected the fallout from the global financial crisis.

The Forbes magazine also said that the total net worth of the mainland's 400 richest soared 81 percent, or US$141 billion, while America's wealthiest saw US$300 billion, or 20 percent of their cumulative total evaporate, dropping to US$1.27 trillion at the same time.


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