Buffett magic lifts Wang to top of China rich list

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 November, 2009, 12:00am

Warren Buffett's Midas touch has catapulted Wang Chuanfu to the top of China's rich list, as the BYD chairman's net worth has jumped more than fivefold over the past year, thanks to the US investment guru's HK$1.8 billion purchase of a stake in the car and battery maker.

Wang, with a personal wealth of US$5.8 billion, has climbed 22 notches up the list released by Forbes magazine yesterday. His net worth last year was US$1.06 billion.

The mainland's super-rich have seen their net worth soar over the past year amid a stock market revival.

The 40 richest people on the mainland own a combined fortune of US$106 billion, more than double last year's figure, according to Forbes.

'Stock-market listing and market speculation helped the tycoons on the top of the list,' Forbes senior editor Russell Flannery says.

Hong Kong-listed BYD's shares has surged more than eightfold since Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway agreed to buy 225 million shares, almost 10 per cent of the company, for HK$1.8 billion.

Wang's net worth is almost twice that of Liu Yongxing last year, when he was ranked No 1 on the mainland for his US$3 billion net worth.

Liu, the chairman of East Hope Group, has slipped to second place this year although his fortune has increased to US$5.5 billion.

Flannery said fortunes were coming back as the mainland economy was recession-proof amid the global economic crisis.

Last year, the wealth of the top 40 richest mainlanders was slashed to US$52 billion from US$120 billion in the previous year because of slumping stock and property prices.

The 40th-richest mainlander, Fang Wei, the chairman of Liaoning Fangda Group, has a net worth of US$1.45 billion.

Wang of BYD was also the richest mainlander on the Hurun Rich List for China released in September.

Mainland tycoons could not make the list of the top 400 Chinese super-rich unless they had a net worth of US$300 million this year, an increase from US$200 million a year ago, Flannery said.

Thirty of the 400 tycoons have added to their net worth through new listings on the stock market.

The mainland's massive stimulus programme has boosted the country's economic growth and fuelled the stock market rally.

The mainland's yuan-denominated A-share market has surged 73 per cent this year while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index has advanced 49 per cent.

Zong Qinghou, the chairman of beverage producer Hangzhou Wahaha Group, is the third-richest person on the mainland with a personal wealth of US$4.8 billion, up from 18th place last year.

Zong regained control of Wahaha after settling a two-year dispute with Groupe Danone.

China Zhongwang Holdings boss Liu Zhongtian is ranked the eighth-richest person on the list following the aluminium producer's US$1.3 billion Hong Kong initial public offering in August. Zhongwang is battling allegations that it misrepresented some aspects of its business in its listing prospectus.

BYD co-founder and vice-chairman Lu Xiangyang, who is also the chairman of Guangzhou Youngy Management & Investment Group, is among those at the top with a net worth of US$4.1 billion for fourth place, a huge jump from a US$790 million fortune last year.

'To get rich is glorious'

The total assets pf wealthy mainlanders on the Forbes China Rich List soared from US$52 billion to US$106 billion despite the global financial crisis, while the number of billionaires in China grew from 24 to 40

The top 10

1 Wang Chuangu: Chairman of BYD, US$ 5.8b

2 Liu Yongxing: Chairman of East Hope Group, US$ 5.5b

3 Zong Qinghou: Chairman of Hangzhou Wahaha Group, US$ 4.8b

4 Lu Xiangyang: Chairman of Guangzhou Youngy Management & Investment Group, US$ 4.1b

5 Yang Huiyan: Biggest shareholder of Country Garden Holdings, US$ 3.9b

6 Hui WIng-mau: Chairman of Shimao Group, US$ 3.85b

7 Ma Huateng: Chairman of Tencent Holdings, US$ 3.8b

8 Liu Zhongtian: Chairman of China Zhongwang Holdings, US$ 3.79b

9 Zhang Jindong: Chair of Suning Appliance, US$ 3.7b

10 Wang Jianlin: Chair of Dalian Wanda Group, US$ 3.5b

Source: Forbes