Get more with myNEWS
A personalised news feed of stories that matter to you
Learn more
The Pudong business and financial district in Shanghai. The Shanghai Composite Index has gained 10 per cent this year. Photo: EPA-EFE

China’s largest private companies soar in value despite pandemic, worth half of second-largest economy’s GDP last year: Hurun report

  • Internet, pharmaceutical and electric vehicle companies drive growth as pandemic recedes
  • Tencent unseats Alibaba to become the most valuable company

China’s largest private companies mushroomed in value over the past year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, driven by fast growth in the internet, health care and electric vehicles sectors, according to a Hurun Research Institute report released on Wednesday.

The values on average of the country’s top 500 private companies surged by 55 per cent to a record 110 billion yuan (US$16.7 billion) from a year ago. They were worth a combined 56 trillion yuan, or about half of China’s gross domestic product last year, according to the report, which is based on data up to October this year.

Tencent Holdings, Alibaba Group Holding, Meituan-Dianping, Pinduoduo and, the country’s five internet giants, were in focus. Benefiting from a global stock market rally among technology companies as the pandemic receded, they each added more than US$100 billion in value over the year.

“The main reasons for the rapid increase were the rise of the new economy, especially after the pandemic, a sharp rise in the stock markets and a flurry of new listings,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher at Hurun.

Investors have piled into technology and pharmaceutical stocks globally, in search of growth and certainty, since the outbreak of the coronavirus. Central banks flooding the market with unprecedented liquidity has also helped push share prices higher.

Social media and online games operator Tencent (US$743 billion) unseated e-commerce behemoth Alibaba (US$713 billion), which also owns this newspaper, to become the most valuable company. Online food delivery services provider Meituan (US$243 billion) climbed to third place from sixth last year. Ping An Insurance (US$221 billion) and Ant Group (US$209 billion), which was expected to go public in the world’s largest initial public offering before regulators suspended it at the last minute this month, made up the top 5.

The Nasdaq Composite has advanced 34 per cent since the beginning of this year, and the Shanghai Composite Index has gained 10 per cent. The Hang Seng Tech Index, which tracks the 30 largest technology companies listed in Hong Kong, added 15 per cent.

Online shopping platform operators Pinduoduo and made it into the top 10 list for the first time, as the pandemic accelerated the adoption of online shopping. Pinduoduo (US$170 billion), which has a large user base in China’s smaller cities and rural areas, grew 289 per cent in value to rank sixth. (US$149 billion) expanded by 200 per cent to rank eighth.


China GDP: economy grew by 4.9 per cent in third quarter of 2020

China GDP: economy grew by 4.9 per cent in third quarter of 2020

Telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies suffered a drop in ranking, falling to seventh from fourth last year, after it sold smartphone brand Honor to a state-led consortium to sidestep US sanctions that prevented it from buying key components.

Pharmaceutical companies led by Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine (US$74 billion) took up 93 of the 500 top spots, the most among all industries. Electric vehicle makers also sped up the ranks – BYD (US$67 billion) leapt 41 places to rank 17th in value, while New York-listed Nio (US$62 billion) made the list for the first time and ranked 19th.

Altogether, the 500 private companies employed 9.7 million workers, according to the report.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Leading private firms soar in value