Robin Li (李彥宏) passed Wang Jianlin (王健林) as the richest man in China yesterday by just US$64 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.
The founder of Baidu Inc (百度), China’s largest Internet search engine, became the wealthiest individual in the world’s second-biggest economy just 14 days after taking the No. 2 spot.
Baidu, whose name is derived from a Chinese poem from the Song Dynasty, was cofounded by Li on Jan. 1, 2000, in Beijing’s Zhongguancun — China’s equivalent of Silicon Valley. The company, which has grown from fewer than 10 employees to more than 17,000, sold shares on the NASDAQ in 2005.
Li’s net worth has climbed by US$4.8 billion, or 65 percent, to US$12.231 billion so far this year as Baidu shares rallied.
Wang, chairman of the closely-held Dalian Wanda Group (萬達集團), has seen his fortune grow by US$2.9 billion to US$12.167 billion this year. Four of China’s top billionaires are worth about US$12 billion.
Wang may reclaim the first spot after he sells shares in AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, the US movie chain he bought for US$2.6 billion last year. AMC this week said it plans to raise as much as US$368 million in an initial public offering that would value the company at up to US$1.9 billion.
Wang founded Dalian Wanda, the country’s largest commercial property developer and movie theater operator. Wang’s wealth shrank to US$12.2 billion from US$14.2 billion in August when he overtook Zong Qinghou (宗慶后), chairman of China’s largest beverage maker Hangzhou Wahaha Group (娃哈哈集團), as the richest man in the nation.
Zong trails Li and Wang with a net worth of US$12 billion.
Ma Huateng (馬化騰), founder and chairman of Tencent Holdings (騰訊), China’s largest Internet company by market value, is the country’s fourth-richest individual with a wealth of US$11.5 billion, according to the daily ranking of the world’s richest people.