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Number of China’s billionaires shrinks
Global Times | March 09, 2012 00:05
By Chen Yang
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The number of billionaires from China dropped on the 2012 Forbes Billionaires List compared with last year, mainly due to the sluggish domestic stock market and government curbs on sectors like property.

Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing, who was ranked 9th on the Forbes list unveiled yesterday, was China's richest man with personal wealth of $25.5 billion. It is the first time he is ranked among the top 10.

The richest person on the Chinese mainland was Li Yanhong, chairman of search engine company Baidu Inc, with personal assets of $10.2 billion.

Li is followed by Liang Wen'gen, chairman of Sany Heavy Industry, and Zong Qinghou, chairman of beverage giant Wahaha Group, with personal wealth of $8.1 billion and $6.5 billion respectively.

It is the second time the trio earn their spots as the top three mainland billionaires on the Forbes list.

Of the 1,226 billionaires on the list, 95 were from China, down from 115 on last year's list.

A total of 40 former billionaires from China, who are mainly engaged in pharmaceutical, property and manufacturing sectors, could not make the newly released list.

"The weak performance of Chinese billionaires this year is largely due to the sluggish stock market last year, which had squeezed their fortunes," Russell Flannery, the Shanghai bureau chief of Forbes magazine, told the Global Times.

"The property sector has been significantly affected by policy curbs, so the wealth of property developers has shrunk quickly," Feng Pengcheng, a professor at University of International Business and Economics, said yesterday.

Meanwhile 22 businesspeople from China made a debut on the Forbes list this year. "Among these new billionaires, some of them gathered fortunes from initial public offerings and others did their businesses relatively well," Flannery said.

Feng said changes in Forbes' rankings reflect a trend of making money. "More enterprise leaders with innovation capabilities will appear on the rich list," he said. "However, those billionaires who depend on cheap labor costs or resources will gradually lose their advantages."

The ranking of Forbes Billionaires List is different from that of the Hurun Global Rich List published Tuesday, in which Zong Qinghou of Wahaha was listed as the richest mainland billionaire with personal assets of $10.5 billion, far higher than $6.5 billion estimated by Forbes.

Bloomberg News has also launched a world billionaire index that is updated on a daily basis. Hong Kong businessman Li Ka-shing was the only Chinese who made the list yesterday, with an estimated net worth of $ 24.7 billion, $45.3 million less than the previous day.

Year-to-date, Li's personal wealth has increased by 11.6 percent, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.


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