Nongfu Spring debut surge makes founder Zhong Shanshan third richest in China

Business | 8 Sep 2020 2:07 pm

It was the hottest IPO in town. Now Nongfu Spring's stock surge in Hong Kong is turning its founder into China’s second-richest person.

Shares of the bottled-water maker jumped by 85 percent and traded up 55 percent by the midday break in Hong Kong. The debut is on pace to become the city’s fourth best on record among firms that raised more than US$1 billion, Bloomberg reports.

The surge is pushing the net worth of Zhong Shanshan, who owns 84 percent of the firm he founded in 1996, to more than US$51 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He’s now the wealthiest person in China after Alibaba Group Holding's Jack Ma Yun, and the third richest in Asia.

The initial public offering was oversubscribed by more than 1,100 times and Nongfu increased the number of shares allocated to the public. That was after it priced at the top end of a marketed range.

Zhong, also known by the local media as the Lone Wolf for eschewing business groups and politics, is the only tycoon among China’s five richest people who isn’t from the tech or real estate industry, which typically dominate the ranking. His fortune was boosted in April when Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co., a company he acquired a controlling stake in almost two decades ago, went public in Shanghai. The stock has surged by more than 2,100 percent since then.

That’s quite a turnaround for a man whose schooling got interrupted during the nation’s Cultural Revolution and who worked in construction and in journalism before turning to bottled water. Now Zhong is sharing his success: the Nongfu listing is also creating at least 68 new millionaires. Dozens of them became shareholders just last year, when Zhong and his holding company transferred 0.79 percent of Nongfu as part of a staff incentive program.-Photo: China Daily





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