thursday, 15 october of 2015

China beats US in dollar billionaire table

China has overtaken the US as home to the most dollar billionaires, according to the latest Hurun Rich List, with Wang Jianlin, the property tycoon, overtaking Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, as the mainland’s wealthiest person.

Mr Wang also overtook Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong tycoon, as the richest person in Greater China. Hurun values Mr Wang, 61, at $34.4bn, up 52 per cent from a year earlier, versus $32.7bn for Mr Li and $22.7bn for Mr Ma. Mr Wang topped the mainland list in 2013 but lost the title to Mr Ma last year.

China added 242 dollar billionaires in 2015, bringing its total to 596, against 537 in the US, according to the annual ranking of China’s wealthy. If Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are included, the Greater China total reaches 715.

Much of this wealth is on paper and comes from vast stakes in companies the billionaires founded. The value of these stakes has been hugely volatile as the Chinese stock market whipsawed earlier this year. The Hurun report is based on equity values on August 14, since then the Shanghai Composite Index has fallen 16 per cent.

Dalian Wanda Group, the commercial property arm of Mr Wang’s company, listed in Hong Kong in December, while his cinema chain debuted in Shanghai in January. Growth in his cinema empire accounted for the bulk of Mr Wang’s wealth gains, Hurun said.

As China’s property market cools, Mr Wang has diversified into media, tourism, and finance. Hurun said that only half of his wealth came from property in 2015, versus 90 per cent five years ago.

Mr Ma’s wealth fell 2.2 per cent in 2015 as Alibaba’s New York-listed shares slumped but gains in the value of Ant Financial Services Group, which includes Alipay, the online payment platform, helped buffer losses.

Despite the slowing economy, the number of people on the overall rich list — which claims to track anyone with at least Rmb2bn ($315m) in wealth — rose by 680 to 1,877 in 2015, the largest yearly increase on record and up from a gain of 343 names last year. The cut-off to make the top 10 was $10.2bn, up 44 per cent from last year. For the top 100, the cut-off was $3.2bn, triple the level of five years ago.

IT was the fastest-growing source of wealth, with the number of related names rising 43 per cent over 2014 to 210. But manufacturing and real estate remain the biggest sources of wealth for the super-rich, accounting for 28 per cent and 16 per cent of names respectively. Real estate also accounts for five of the top 10, including Mr Wang.

Excluding inherited wealth, six dollar billionaires were born in the 1980s, including Frank Wang, 35, of DJI Innovations with $3.4bn. Pony Ma, 44, founder of Tencent Holdings, the social media group, is the youngest in the top 10, with $18.8bn.

Women accounted for 21 per cent of the list’s members, and are led by Zhou Qunfei, founder of Lens Technology, the touchscreen maker, who ranks 17th with $17.8bn.

(Published by Financial Times - October 15, 2015)

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