Fewer billionaires in China this year as fortunes sink along with struggling stock market
Jack Ma is China’s richest individual with a personal wealth of US$39 billion
China’s stock market downturn has hit the fortunes of mainland’s wealthiest individuals, with the number of super rich dropping to fewer than 2,000 for the first time since 2015, according to the latest data compiled by Hurun Report.
The number of the wealthiest individuals, with holdings worth at least 2 billion yuan (US$209 million), fell to 1,893 this year, down 11 per cent from 2,130 in 2017. That is only marginally better than the 1,877 who made the list in 2015.
There were 219 new names on the list this year.
“A 20 per cent drop in the mainland stock exchanges, on the back of a slowing economy and the US-China trade war, resulted in 456 drop-offs this year, the highest since records began 20 years ago,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, adding that he remains cautiously upbeat about further growth among China’s wealthiest.
Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding, regained the top spot on the list just weeks after he announced his retirement plan.
Ma, 54, saw his net worth grow US$10 billion to US$39 billion mainly driven by the revaluation of Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba, following a new round of financing by the financial technology behemoth.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
It is the second time that Ma has secured the top place on the list in four years. He was the second-richest mainlander last year, behind only Hui Ka-yan, chairman of property developer Evergrande Group.
Hui, 60, is China’s second-richest person with assets of US$36 billion, down US$6 billion from last year.
Pony Ma Huateng, 47, chairman and chief executive of Tencent, came in third with US$35 billion.
The combined personal fortunes of the top 10 individuals accounted for 10 per cent of the total wealth represented on the list, and that of the top 200 accounted for half of all assets.
Lei Jun, founder and CEO of smartphone maker Xiaomi, is the 10th richest person in China with US$16 billion of net worth after the company’s initial public offering in Hong Kong.
Colin Huang Zheng, 38, founder of e-commerce giant Pinduoduo, led the newcomers following the company’s listing on Nasdaq.
Huang started Pinduoduo only three years ago and has amassed a personal fortune estimated at US$14 billion, to rank 13th on the list.
“The billionaires, once the bellwether entrepreneurs in the Chinese economy, have turned out to be leading investors in various businesses to diversify their assets,” said Hoogewerf. “Wealth in China is becoming more concentrated.”
China, the world’s second-largest economy, has 620 billionaires in US dollar terms, down 27 from last year.