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Mainland billionaires keep the wealth stakes ticking in 2018

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-03-01 10:15
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Jack Ma, founder of China's Alibaba Group. [Photo/VCG]

Despite the stock market slump and economic uncertainties, China is still home to the largest number of dollar billionaires and contributed the most new faces to the Hurun Global Rich List unveiled on Tuesday.

A total of 658 Chinese billionaires made it onto the global rich list this year, dislodging the United States which saw 584 of its billionaires entering the list. The combined wealth of the Chinese billionaires came to $2 trillion, which was equal to 2.5 percent of the world's GDP last year.

Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, was recorded as the richest Chinese person with personal wealth of $39 billion. China's other technology behemoth Tencent saw its chief executive officer Pony Ma became the second wealthiest in the country, with his net worth amounting to $38 billion. Xu Jiayin, chairman of the Shenzhen-based property developer Evergrande, assumed the third spot in China this year, down from his position as the richest Chinese person in 2017.

China also contributed the most new faces, with a total of 52, accounting for one fourth of newcomers this year. Huang Zheng, founder of online discounter Pinduoduo, which was established in 2015, was the most affluent newcomer with a personal wealth of $14.9 billion. He has set a record by building his wealth above $10 billion within the shortest time, even faster than Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft's co-founder Bill Gates.

To Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of the Hurun rich list, the new faces of Chinese billionaires on the list this year are strong proof of the "significant innovation" going on in the country. Despite the economic growth slowdown, Chinese entrepreneurs still enjoy the advantages of robust domestic demand and an active venture capital market, he said.

Chinese entrepreneurs have faced difficulties for their businesses over the past 12 months given the slump of the A-share market and the 6 percent drop in the Chinese yuan against the US dollar. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 25 percent last year, according to Shanghai-based market tracker Wind Info. This has resulted in the fact that 212 Chinese billionaires dropped out of the global rich list this year, said Hoogewerf.

However, the top three positions were all assumed by entrepreneurs from the United States. Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of online retailer Amazon, topped the global rich list this year with a personal wealth of $147 billion. Bill Gates was second with a net worth of $96 billion and the legendary investment guru Warren Buffett took third place as his wealth shrunk 14 percent to $88 billion this year.

This is the eighth year in a row that the Shanghai-based Hurun Research Institute has released the list. A total of 2,470 billionaires from 1,931 companies in 67 countries and regions made in onto the list. Their total wealth came at $9.6 trillion, down 9 percent from a year earlier.

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