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China overtakes US in number of billionaires

Shi Jing
Updated: Oct 16,2015 8:39 AM     China Daily

China now has more billionaires than the United States, according to the latest Hurun Rich List, with Wang Jianlin, the real estate mogul, overtaking Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, as the wealthiest person in the mainland.

According to the numbers released by the Shanghai-based Hurun Research Institute, China added 242 more billionaires this year, taking the total tally to 596. The number of billionaires in the US was 537.

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, which tracks wealthy people, said that the surge in the Chinese stock market earlier this year has helped in the growth of Chinese billionaires. This year also saw an unprecedented growth in the wealth of China’s richest, despite the country’s economic slowdown.

“The growth in the number of billionaires indicates China’s growing influence in the international community,” he said.

The threshold for entering the rich list this year was 2 billion yuan ($310 million). About 1,877 individuals made it to the list, 606 more than that of last year. The wealth of these billionaires totaled $2.1 trillion, which is more than the GDP of countries such as India or Russia.

The majority of the newly minted billionaires this year are from manufacturing and information technology industries. About 90 percent of the companies are listed companies.

The National Equities Exchange and Quotations, better known as the New Third Board, has become the new source of wealth, with 14 newly registered billionaires coming from the eight companies listed on the board. Beijing-based JD Capital Co Ltd, which went public on the board in late April, helped its founder and Chairman Wu Gang become the billionaire with the fastest-growing wealth.

Manufacturing is still the mainstay for billionaires, with 28.1 percent of the individuals coming from the sector, up 23.1 percent from a year ago.

The rise in manufacturing billionaires is in line with the country’s “Made in China 2025” strategy.

“Drone King” Wang Tao, 35, who topped the sub-list of Generation Y entrepreneurs with personal wealth of 22 billion yuan, is a typical ideal example of someone who made it big in high value-added manufacturing.

Real estate accounted for the lowest share of billionaires, at about 16.1 percent, while information technology remained the fastest-growing industry with 43 percent of the shortlisted entrepreneurs coming from the sector.

Wang Jianlin, 61, chairman of property company Dalian Wanda Group, took the top slot after his wealth surged 52 percent to $34.4 billion. Last year’s No 1 Jack Ma of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd was pushed to the second place this year due to a major contraction in Alibaba share prices. Beverage king Zong Qinghou of Hangzhou Wahaha Group was ranked third with net worth of $21.1 billion.

Lu Zhiqiang, chairman of property, finance and investment conglomerate China Oceanwide Holdings Group, Zhang Jindong, chairman of retailing company Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd as well as Lu Guanqiu, chairman of auto components firm Wanxiang Group, are the new entrants in the top 10 list.

Qin Shuo, chief executive of China Business News, said: “China has entered an era where privately owned enterprises are at the forefront. This year is also a turning point for Chinese companies as they have taken the pole position for the first time. Going forward, the gap between Chinese and US entrepreneurs will increasingly widen.”

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