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Wang tops Hurun wealthy list

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-12 07:54

Real estate, entertainment mogul overtakes head of beverage giant

Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group Corp Ltd, overtook Zong Qinghou to become the richest man in China, according to the Hurun Rich List 2013, which was released on Wednesday.

This is the first time that Wang, 59, tops the list. His personal wealth has doubled to $22 billion in 2013, a record-high amount in the Hurun list's 15 years of publication.

Known as one of the world's biggest landlords due to the number of shopping malls he owns, Wang has 61 percent of Wanda, which will have 17 million square meters of property under management at the end of 2013.

Wang said in a recent speech at the Summer Davos meeting in Dalian that China's urbanization process will be the driving force of the country's economy, and it means that about 350 million people will become urban residents in the next 20 years, requiring a large amount of steel, iron, cement and other construction materials.

But Wang is eyeing other sectors. He has become the world's largest operator of cinema screens after his multi-billion dollar acquisition of the United States-based cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc last year.

In addition, Wanda bought British luxury yacht maker Sunseeker for $520 million in June, and will invest $1 billion in a hotel and luxury apartment complex in London, as part of his plans to build one of China's biggest hotel brands.

Dalian Wanda Group's revenue was about $23 billion last year, up 34.8 percent year-on-year, and the target this year is around $29 billion.

And although 68-year-old Zong Qinghou, the chairman of Hangzhou-based beverages giant Wahaha Group Co Ltd, is on the second spot on this year's Hurun list, his wealth has grown 44 percent year-on-year.

Wahaha's sales revenue rose 23 percent year-on-year to reach $10.3 billion in 2012. Zong and his family's stake in the group increased to 95 percent from 80 percent last year.

Ma Huateng, 42, co-founder and chairman of Tencent Holdings Ltd, is third on the list with personal wealth estimated at $10.1 billion.

Ma is the youngest among the top 10 richest men on the list, and this is the first time that he is among the top three.

Ma owns a 10.25 percent stake of Tencent. The company made a total profit of $2 billion last year and its share price soared about 50 percent year-on-year. Tencent's market value is now as much as $90 billion, and it's the most valuable company on this year's Hurun list.

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report, the Shanghai-based magazine that publishes the list, said that Tencent's growth can be largely attributed to the success of the real-time communication application WeChat.

Ma said in a previous interview that the opportunities provided by WeChat are something to be grabbed "now or never", and that he sees the mobile app as a product that can be launched in the international market.

Despite the fact that the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has dropped 1.2 percent so far this year, the average wealth of the individuals on the Hurun Top 1,000 list is up about 21 percent year-on-year to a record high of $1.04 billion and has more than doubled since the global financial crisis of 2008, when the average number was $439 million.

The combined wealth of the top five richest people has also doubled.

The number of US dollar billionaires is up a staggering 64 people to 315 individuals this year, from zero a decade ago.

The cut-off level to enter the Top 1,000 list this year also hit a record high of $325 million, up 12 percent year-on-year and more than triple of the 2008 cut-off level. The threshold to make into the Top 50 list is almost 10-fold that of a decade ago.

"Strong performance in real estate and information technology has driven China's richest into new records," said Hoogewerf.

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