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Jack Ma vaults to top of rich list

Published on Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014
Alibaba's record breaking IPO has pushed founder Jack Ma into No1 spot on China's rich list.
Photo: Jonathan Wong/SCMP

Jack Ma Yun, the 50-year-old co-founder and chairman of mainland e-commerce giant Alibaba, has topped this year's Hurun China Rich List, with the number of US dollar billionaires on the mainland increasing by 39 to 354. 

However, some have fallen foul of President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption. Hurun said: "Eighteen of last year's list are in varying degrees of trouble with the authorities, of which 11 still made the list this year."

The mainland was home to only three US dollar billionaires 10 years ago.

Many rich mainlanders have political connections, with 166 of the Hurun Rich List this year - 13 more than last year - either National People's Congress deputies or Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegates. Forty per cent of the top 50 on this year's list have senior political appointments.

Hurun said the 38 per cent rise in Alibaba's stock on the first day of trading in New York on Friday saw Ma's fortune soar five times to US$25 billion. 

It said five of the top 10 on the list were in information technology. They include 43-year-old Pony Ma Huateng of Tencent in fifth spot with personal wealth of US$18.1 billion; Baidu chairman and chief executive Robin Li Yanhong and his wife Melissa Ma Dongmin in sixth spot with US$17.5 billion; Richard Liu Qiangdong of JD.com in ninth place with US$8.8 billion; and Lei Jun of Xiaomi Technology in tenth place with US$7.5 billion.

Three of the top six spoke fluent English, including Ma, Li Hejun, the chairman and chief executive of renewable energy company Hanergy, and Robin Li, demonstrating the globalisation of the Chinese private sector, Hurun said.

Twenty-six of those on this year's list are under 40 and self-made, including Chen Ou, 31, of online cosmetic retailer Jumei, with a fortune of US$1.5 billion, and 34-year-old Zhang Bangxin, of tutorial services provider TAL Education, with US$1.05 billion.

"The entrepreneurial spirit that has caught China seems not to be abating, with eight self-made individuals born in the '80s making the list. Any country would be proud of that," said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher. 

"The Hurun Rich List has seen more action on the international front than in the previous 15 years added together."

Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, and Guo Guangchang of Fosun International are two on this year's list who are actively investing overseas. In August, Wanda said it would invest US$1.2 billion in a mixed-use property project in Beverly Hills, California, to aid China's entry into Hollywood. 

Wang and his family, with an estimated wealth of US$24.2 billion, dropped from the top spot on Hurun's list last year to second place this year. 

Toh Han Shih

hanshih.toh@scmp.com

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