Asia Briefing: Tencent owner is China’s richest man


A record surge in the share price of China’s internet messaging firm Tencent has made its chairman Ma Huateng (42) – known as Pony Ma in English – China’s richest man, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

His personal worth of $13 billion (€9.56 billion) edges him ahead of Robin Li, founder of China’s search engine Baidu.

It has been a busy index of late, with pole position changing twice last year, from the Wahaha beverage billionaire Zong Qinghou to Wanda Group property and entertainment mogul Wang Jianlin, then to Li.

Tencent has seen its shares rise 92 per cent in the past year, boosted by WeChat, an instant messaging and social networking app known in Chinese as Weixin, which has grown like a weed among Chinese consumers. Tencent’s QQ instant-messaging service had 818 million monthly active users at the end of June last year, while WeChat had 236 million.

Tencent bought nearly 10 per cent of the logistics group China South City Holdings for $193 million (€142 million), which is expected to play a part in its efforts to grow its presence in the online shopping market as it will use South City to help businesses move their operations online.

Online retailing in China more than doubled each year from 2003 to 2011 and is projected to more than triple to $395 billion (€290.44 billion) in 2015 from 2011, according to a McKinsey report in March.

In its half-yearly internet report published last week, the China Internet Information Centre said a government crackdown on online “rumour- mongering” was seeing many users leave the Twitter-style Weibo service. Some 37 per cent of users who stopped using Weibo turned to WeChat.

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