Wahaha Chairman Tops Forbes Rich List

CDT previously reported on the Hurun rich list and the effect of the widening wealth gap in China. Forbes has released a report naming China’s 100 Richest individuals. Coinciding with the Hurun rich list,Wahaha founder and chairman, Zong Qinghou, tops the Forbes’ list:

Slower economic growth took a toll on many of China’s 100 biggest fortunes, with 45 of them slipping from last year’s FORBES ASIA count and the overall roster’s total dipping 7% to $220 billion. But that still beats the 20% drop in the Shanghai Stock Exchange index since our 2011 list.

Beverage producer Zong Qinghou, who topped our list in 2010, returns to the No. 1 spot as his net worth hit $10 billion. Others who faced a demanding consumer sector did not fare as well. Suning Appliance Chairman Zhang Jindong was down $2.4 billion (see story, p. 41) even as he opened up a commanding market lead over longtime rival Wong Kwong Yu of Gome, who suffered a $2 billion drop and still sits in jail for financial crimes. Qiu Guanghe of the fashion chain Semir shed $2.8 billion and fell to 37th. Several property tycoons suffered (see p. 36), and last year’s list leader, Liang Wengen, is off $3.4 billion as demand slows for the building equipment produced by Sany Group, which he chairs. He’s now No. 6.

Methodology: This list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and China’s regulatory agencies. The ranking lists family fortunes, including those shared among extended families. Public fortunes were calculated based on stock prices and exchange rates as of Sept. 21. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded.

According to Xinhua, while some individuals were dropped from the list, others have seen jumps in their wealth:

Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd, was the fastest riser in the past year, seeing his wealth jump from 25.6 billion yuan to 50.4 billion yuan, making up the top three with Zong and Robin Li from China’s search engine company Baidu.

Russell Flannery, a senior editor at Forbes and chief of its Shanghai Bureau, said: “Wang outperformed with his greatest success entering the entertainment industry with the announcement of a $2.6 billion acquisition of US cinema chain AMC Entertainment.”

“All those ups and downs of rich people in China in different industries lead to the conclusion that the slowdown of China’s economy has brought uncertainty to local private enterprises,” said Zhou Jiangong, chief editor of Forbes Chinese edition.

On the Forbes list, 16 are property billionaires. Despite making it onto the list, another Forbes article reports, eight of these property billionaires have seen a decrease in their fortunes in the past year:

With notable exceptions like Wang Jianlin, big property developers in China have had a rough year as the government has moved to curb speculation.

Hui Ka Yan, Chairman of Evergrande Real Estate Group, took the biggest hit among the property billionaires. His estimated net worth has shrunk 21% to $4.9 billion in 2012, putting him at No. 8 on the list. The company’s profit, excluding the revaluation of investment properties, also declined 21% to $598 million in the first half of 2012, compared with an increase of 148% a year earlier, as home prices were hit the most in inland cities where the company focused its expansion last year.

Zhang Xin, CEO of SOHO China and one of the country’s top self-made women billionaires, also saw a sharp drop in net worth due to share price decline. SOHO China, Beijing’s largest real estate developer, reported a 65 percent decline in first half net profits, as it completed fewer projects than expected. The share price fell about 20% from a year ago.

Beijing has been trying to curb speculation in the property sector to prevent the formation of asset bubbles. Over the last two years, the government has raised downpayment and mortgage requirements, imposed a property tax for the first time in Shanghai and Chongqing, increased construction of low-cost housing and enacted home-purchase restrictions in about 40 cities.

October 14, 2012 11:10 AM
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Categories: Economy, Society