Mainland billionaire club members rise to 106 as markets soar

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 October, 2007, 12:00am

The mainland's surging stock and property markets have helped create 106 billionaires, ranking it second only to the United States in terms of billionaires, according to Shanghai-based Hurun Report.

The number of US billionaires listed by Forbes magazine was fewer than 415 in March. Germany has 55 billionaires, Russia 53, India 36 and Japan 24, Forbes said.

Hurun only lists billionaires in the mainland, and refers to Forbes for other countries. The Forbes list of mainland billionaires for this year was unavailable.

Last year, the mainland had 15 billionaires, Hurun said, compared with Forbes list of 371 in the US, 55 in Germany, 33 in Russia, 27 in Japan, 25 in China including Hong Kong, 24 in Britain and 23 in India.

Rupert Hoogewerf, who compiled the Hurun report, said the surge in the number of mainland billionaires stemmed from a sharp rise in property prices as well as the boom in the mainland and Hong Kong stock markets.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has jumped 115.72 per cent so far this year, while the Hang Seng Index has gained 43.1 per cent, on track to make the biggest yearly advance since 1999.

Ba Shusong, a research fellow of the State Council's development and research centre, also credited the property and stock markets for the dramatic increase in the number of mainland billionaires.

Four of the top 10 in the Hurun list made their fortune from property development, reflecting rapid urbanisation and soaring real-estate prices, Mr Hoogewerf said.

The richest mainlander, with a fortune of US$17.5 billion, is Yang Huiyan, the 26-year-old daughter of Country Garden Holdings founder Yeung Kwok-keung.

She also topped the list released by Forbes Asia two days ago, which estimated her wealth at US$16 billion.

Her fortune came from her father, a farmer turned developer, who transferred all his shares in Country Garden to her two years ago.

Country Garden raised HK$14.8 billion from a Hong Kong listing in April.

The stock has risen 144 per cent since its debut, closing at HK$13.12 yesterday.

Hurun's annual Rich List, which is in its ninth year, included 800 individuals this year whose average wealth is US$562 million.

It takes US$105 million to make it to the list.