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Baidu founder moves to top of billionaires list

Updated: 2013-12-05 10:26
By Shi Jing in Shanghai ( China Daily)
Baidu founder moves to top of billionaires list

Robin Li, founder of China's largest search engine, Baidu Inc, overtook property tycoon Wang Jianlin for the first time to become the richest Chinese man Wednesday on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.

It happened just 14 days after Li grabbed second place in the index. Li's net worth has increased by 65 percent, or $4.8 billion, to reach $12.23 billion so far this year as Baidu's shares rallied. Meanwhile, Wang, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group Corp Ltd, has seen his fortune climb by $2.9 billion to $12.16 billion this year.

The proliferation of smartphones and tablets, combined with Baidu's prominent position in the desktop search market, has boosted its share price by 69 percent over the past six months. Baidu's development of mobile platforms and its rapid growth in traffic volume have also contributed its success, said Lucy Zhang, an analyst at Internet consulting group IResearch, in a telephone interview with Bloomberg.

Baidu had an 81 percent share of search-engine queries in China in the three months ending in June, while the second-largest, Qihoo 360 Technology Co, took only 10.1 percent of market share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Baidu in August agreed to pay $160 million to acquire 59 percent of the location-based e-commerce service Nuomi Holdings Inc and said in July it would buy app store 91 Wireless Websoft Ltd for $1.9 billion.

It bought Santa Clara, Calif.-based TrustGo Mobile Inc for its security and personal-privacy protection technology earlier this year. But details were not disclosed.

Baidu also is exploring opportunities in Internet finance. In October, it offered "Baifa", a money market fund managed by China Asset Management Co, which attracted more than 1 billion yuan ($164 million) worth of investment from more than 120,000 customers on its debut, said Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo.

The information technology gurus' rise can be seen in the Forbes China Rich List 2013 released in late October.

Li rose to third on the list as his personal wealth increased to 18.3 billion yuan to reach 67.7 billion yuan after several successful acquisitions.

Russell Flannery, Shanghai bureau chief for Forbes China, said it was noteworthy that in this year's rich list, industries such as Internet, automotive, entertainment and real estate are still expanding by leaps and bounds.

The Hurun Rich List 2013, which was released in September, also found that the IT industry was the fastest-growing industry this year.

The average personal wealth of the shortlisted IT billionaires rose 51 percent to reach 10.7 billion yuan, about 20 times that of a decade ago.

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report, predicted that the rich list will be led by the IT industry over the next five years.

The Bloomberg Billionaire Index, first released in March of 2012, is a daily ranking of the world's richest people. The index bases its findings on changes in the markets, the economy and Bloomberg data.