9 in Hurun top 100 seeing wealth rise in 2mths from China

By Li Qiaoyi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/6 23:38:41

Latest ranking mirrors nation’s effectiveness in meeting daily supply despite lockdown


Rupert Hoogewerf's eponymous Hurun Research released a special report on Monday revealing changes to wealth rankings of the world's wealthiest entrepreneurs who make the Hurun Global Top 100 list in the two months ending on March 31. 

The report findings show that China added six individuals to the top 100 billionaires list, the biggest addition during the period, while India lost three and the US lost two. 

Meanwhile, in signs that global businesses are taking a battering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the world's top 100 billionaires lost 12.6 percent, or $408 billion, in the two months, suggesting all gains made in the past two and a half years have been erased. More importantly, only 9 percent of those making the Hurun list saw their wealth increase, which are all from China. 

The latest rankings largely mirror the nation's effectiveness in having certain businesses meet the daily necessities of average folks despite a lockdown, a feat admirable but hardly imitable by other virus-plagued economies, observers said.
The nine seeing wealth additions are all from China, including bosses at hog producer Muyuan, feed and meet producer New Hope, soy sauce maker Haitian, JD.com Inc, SF Express, Xiaomi, and ventilator and life support medical equipment maker Mindray.

Stating that the viral pandemic has had too much impact on businesses and wealth, Zhang Yansheng, chief researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, believes such wealth changes are still part of expectations, as the industries that stay intact from the disease or even turn out to be winners of the pandemic - such as medical equipment - might have been operating at full throttle.

A deeper look into the industries unravels the mysteries of how they buck an overall lackluster trend. Take Mindray. It's understandable that the company has performed well, as there's a massive need, unfortunately, for its products, Hoogewerf told the Global Times on Monday. 

He was uncertain about whether the gains would be sustainable though. The sustainability of the gains "depends on how stock markets perform relatively. I would have assumed that the US and some European stock markets would bounce back, but I'm not sure if that's going to be in one month or six months or two years or whatever."

Employees produce ventilators at Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co., Ltd., a medical device manufacturer based in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, March 31, 2020. (Xinhua/Liang Xu)

Narrowing gap 

Following the coronavirus-fueled wealth reshuffle, the US now tops the rankings with 34, while China now has 29. Only two months ago, the gap stood at 36 to 23.

Hoogewerf said that he was struck by a big drop in the China-US gap in a special ranking that has gauged the wealth impact two months into the coronavirus outbreak. 

"China has closed the gap with the US at the top of the Hurun Global Rich List. Two months ago, the US had 13 individuals more than China in the Top 100, but now that gap has closed to 5, on the back of China's stock market performance in the last two months," Hoogewerf said.

One way to measure the effectiveness of China's efforts to cushion the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic would be to look at stock market performances, he said.

In the last two months since January 31, the Dow Jones Index has gone down by 21 percent, and German, French, UK, and Indian stock markets have gone down by a quarter. In that same period, the Shanghai Composite Index went up by 0.2 percent. "So relatively speaking, from a pure financial economic perspective, China has done extremely well," he said. 

China advocates a scientific approach to viral containment and meanwhile an orderly approach to rebooting the economy, which still portrays the government's prudent attitude toward economic opening, Zhang said. He called for governments to be freed up from taking the lead in containing the virus, letting the rule of law and big data firms oversee the containment task force instead, thereby quickening the economic rebound.

Lockdowns, if lasting for a long period, can have a very negative impact on small and medium-sized businesses, Hoogewerf argued, "the balance has to be to keep the lockdown as long as is needed from a public health point of view, but as short as possible from an economic point of view."

There are certain mega trends that are containing relentlessly despite the current economic crisis, he noted, citing artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud, mega data, and e-commerce in the era of 5G. 

China has two distinct advantages in some of these new sectors, he went on to say, speaking of the scalability of the market and that the nation has a very active investor ecosystem, which combined to bestow China with huge opportunities in new industries.

Monday's Hurun finding also points to one dark cloud that might obscure the glow of Chinese businesses as a whole.

Charles Lu Zhengyao and Jenny Qian Zhiya of Luckin Coffee, one of the fastest- growing companies in the last three years, were named one of the biggest losers, after a transaction fraud worth north of $300 million led to a fall of 90 percent last week in the stock of the NASDAQ-listed Chinese coffee chain. The scandal knocked Lu and Qian off the billionaire rankings.

"Luckin reminds me of ofo, the bike-sharing app. The two brands changed people's lifestyles and made people think in a different way. Unfortunately, however, in both cases, their management was not able to keep up... The result was ofo failed as a business, and now Luckin's management is trying to save its business," Hoogewerf said.

He said however it's still too early to understand the long-term wealth impact of the Luckin incident on Chinese businesses listed overseas. Hoogewerf held onto his optimism regarding the wealth outlook for the Chinese economy.

"From what we see as a mega trend, the Chinese economy in the past 20 years has created more wealth than any country in the history of the world. And rolling this forward if the economy continues to grow at a sustainable GDP percentage, then it's inevitably going to become a much bigger and more important economy in the world."

Posted in: ECONOMY

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