Ma keeps throne as China's rich get richer

Top News | Stella Zhai 8 Nov 2019

Jack Ma Yun, the former executive chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has topped the Forbes China Rich List for a second year, with his fortune rising 10.4 percent from a year earlier to US$38.2 billion (HK$297.96 billion).

The tycoon stepped down in September and was succeeded by former Taobao chief Daniel Zhang Yong.

Tencent chief Pony Ma Huateng, with US$36 billion, and Evergrande Group chairman Hui Kayan, with an estimated US$27.7 billion fortune, saw their positions go unchanged - they remained second and third respectively.

The total wealth of China's 400 richest persons on the list grew by more than 20 percent from last year to US$1.29 trillion, according to Forbes, despite the trade war between China and the United States and an economic downturn.

More than half the billionaires saw their fortunes climb in the past year, while a quarter saw their fortunes fall.

Pharmaceutical and health sectors benefited as rising incomes enable mainlanders to spend more on health care, said Russell Flannery, senior editor and Shanghai bureau chief for Forbes.

The fourth richest man, Sun Piaoyang, chairman of Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, recorded a fortune of US$25.8 billion.

His wife Zhong Huijuan is the chair and founder of Hansoh Pharmaceutical, whose shares have risen 26.9 percent since it was listed in June.

Another noteworthy entry at sixth place was He Xiangjian, founder of appliance-maker Midea Group, whose fortune is estimated at US$23.2 billion. It started in 1968 making bottle lids and is now one of the largest producers of robots after acquiring German robot manufacturer Kuka.

Others in the top 10 include Yang Huiyan, co-chairman of real estate developer Country Garden, at No 5 with US$23.9 billion, and William Ding, chief of online and mobile games company NetEase, with US$17.2 billion.

Forbes noted that there were 60 newcomers this year, while the rest of the list was made up of returnees.

And China's consumers spent more on everything and spent more of it online, Flannery wrote, noting the growing number of online retail operators on the list.

Among them, the net worth of Colin Huang Zheng, 39-year-old chief executive of e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, surged 88.4 percent over a year earlier to US$21.2 billion.

Pinduoduo gained on rival, propelling Huang five places up to seventh place.

Ding Shizhong, chairman and chief executive of Anta Sports Products, as well as brother Ding Shijia, the vice chairman, saw their net worth multiply almost 1.5 times to US$5.6 billion and US$5.5 billion respectively.

The company's shares more than doubled in value in the past year.

But China's downward car sales have impacted Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Automobile, whose fortune fell 9 percent to US$12.9 billion.

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