Nation has record number of billionaires

Updated: 2013-10-17 00:53

By SHI JING in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Nation has record number of billionaires

The Chinese rich are getting richer as the number of billionaires, those with a personal fortune exceeding $1 billion each, hit 168 this year, a record high.

The 2013 Forbes China Rich List, which was released on Wednesday, said the number of billionaires in the country was only 113 last year, because of the less-than-stellar performance of the Chinese stock market.

In 2003, when Forbes published the list in China for the first time, there was only one person with a fortune estimated at $1 billion.

The threshold to enter the list this year was 600 million yuan ($98 million).

The total wealth of the top 400 rich people amounted to 3.47 trillion yuan, up 35 percent year-on-year, while the total wealth of the richest 100 people surged 44 percent compared with last year to more than 1.92 trillion yuan.

The chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, Wang Jianlin, is at the top of the list for the first time this year with a total fortune of 86 billion yuan from 48 billion yuan last year. Wanda owns 71 shopping malls and 40 five-star hotels. In September, the group invested 48.8 billion yuan in a new film and TV industry park in Qingdao, Shandong province, the largest project of its kind in the world.

Zong Qinghou, chairman of beverage giant Wahaha Group and the richest man on last year's list, is now second with a personal wealth estimated at 68.3 billion yuan. Wahaha's sales revenue was up 9.4 percent year-on-year in the first half of the year to reach 36 billion yuan.

China's third-richest man is Robin Li, chief executive officer of Nasdaq-listed Baidu Inc, the country's largest search engine firm. His personal wealth increased 18.3 billion yuan to reach 67.7 billion yuan after several successful acquisitions.

"Although China's economic growth rate has been slowing down recently, the ongoing urbanization process has brought good news to such sectors as consumer products and services, pharmaceutical and healthcare, entertainment and mobile Internet. These are the major drivers of the emerging Chinese wealth," said Zhou Jiangong, editor-in-chief of Forbes China.

Quite a number of the wealthy people on the list are in the technology industry.

Pony Ma, co-founder and chairman of Tencent Holdings Ltd, who ranked fifth on this year's list, saw his personal wealth increase to 62.2 billion yuan from 39 billion last year.

Chinese e-commerce pioneer Jack Ma — founder and former chairman of China's largest e-commerce platform Alibaba Group Holding Ltd — saw his personal wealth increase to 43.3 billion yuan and ranks eighth on the list.

"It seems that the rapid accumulation of Chinese rich people's wealth is not in line with the economic slowdown. But the list has reflected the changes taking place in the real economy. We can see from the list that industries, including Internet, automotive, entertainment and real estate, are still expanding by leaps and bounds," said Russell Flannery, Shanghai bureau chief at Forbes China.

Among the 87 millionaires who made it into the list for the first time this year, Li Hejun, chairman of the Hong Kong-listed Hanergy Holding Group, jumped to fourth place, with a personal wealth of 66.5 billion yuan. Hanergy is one of the largest solar cell equipment manufacturers in the world.