Drinks boss tops rich list

Tue, Oct 16, 2012, 01:00

AS THE IMF data shows, China’s economy may be slowing down, but that hasn’t stopped the ultra-rich from thriving.

The combined personal wealth of China’s top 100 tycoons, at $220 billion (€170 billion), is more than Ireland’s economic output last year, at about $217 billion (€167 billion).

The table is led by the head of the Wahaha beverage company, Zong Qinghou, who is back in top spot in the Forbes China Rich List with a net worth of $10 billion (€7.7 billion).

He knocks last year’s list leader, Liang Wengen, into sixth place, after his fortune fell $3.4 billion (€2.6 billion) on flagging demand for building equipment from his Sany Group company.

Robin Li, head of the leading Chinese search engine Baidu, remained in second place, despite a 12 per cent drop in his wealth to $8.1 billion (€6.2 billion).

In third place was Wang Jianlin, of property developer Wanda, with $8 billion (€6.1 billion), doubling his fortune from last year.

Another web entrepreneur, Ma Huateng, owner of microblog and messaging service Tencent, saw his fortunes rise 49 per cent to $6.4 billion (€4.9 billion), putting him in fourth place.

China’s richest woman is Wu Yajun, head of property company Longfor, with $6.2 billion (€4.7 billion), up 5 per cent from last year.

Five of the 10 richest Chinese tycoons were property developers and the sector is showing resilience despite government efforts to cool the market.

Forbes said the number of China’s billionaires fell to 113 this year from 146 in 2011, while the wealth of the country’s top 100 richest people declined 7 per cent, which still outperforms the 20 per cent drop in the Shanghai Stock Exchange index since last year.

The United States has at least 400 billionaires.