Baidu founder in second place on China's rich list

Robin Li worth US$12 billion after an increase of 63 per centin the value of his company this year

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 2:47am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 12:12pm


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A 63 per cent rise in Baidu share price this year has made the founder of China's top internet search engine, Robin Li Yanhong, its second-richest person.

Li's net worth has risen to US$12 billion, overtaking Hangzhou Wahaha chairman Zong Qinghou, the country's richest individual just three months ago, who is now worth US$11.8 billion.

Li trails Dalian Wanda Group founder and developer Wang Jianlin, who is worth US$13 billion.

Nearly all of Li's wealth stems from his 20.8 per cent stake in Baidu. The shares are owned directly by Li and his wife, Melissa Ma Dongmin, and through Handsome Rewards, a British Virgin Islands-based holding company.

Baidu has climbed more than 50 per cent on the Nasdaq since July 16, when the Beijing-based company said it would acquire mainland mobile app developer 91 Wireless Websoft for US$1.8 billion.

The purchase, together with four acquisitions Li has made over the past year, helped Baidu sap its primary challenger Qihoo 360 Technology as more internet users tap smartphones.

"With aggressive investment and strong execution, the company has built a comprehensive product offering in mobile phones through both internal R&D and strategic acquisitions," Fawne Jiang and Long Lin, analysts at Brean Capital, wrote in an October 30 report. They have a "buy" rating on the stock.

Baidu bought a stake in group-buying site for US$160 million in August, and in internet-video business PPStream in June for US$370 million.

The company was buying companies to accelerate its transition to mobile devices, where traffic was at least doubling annually, Li said last month.

Baidu is the mainland's second-largest internet company by market value after Hong Kong-listed Tencent, whose chairman Ma Huateng has a net worth of US$10.8 billion, making him the mainland's fourth-richest man.