China’s dollar billionaires grow five-fold


Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - Page 15

The number of US dollar billionaires in China has passed 300 for the first time, an annual ranking of wealth in the world’s second-largest economy showed yesterday.

The Hurun Report, a luxury magazine publisher, named property tycoon Wang Jianlin (王健林) as China’s new richest person, saying he had more than doubled his worth to US$22 billion.

There were a total of 315 dollar billionaires in the country, it said, up 64 from a year ago.

The average fortune of the top 1,000 stood at US$1.04 billion — more than double their US$440 million during the global financial crisis five years ago.

However, some were dogged by scandal. Three of last year’s 10 richest people in Chengdu have been detained amid a corruption crackdown in Sichuan Province.

Two others on the list are in prison, while Xu Ming (徐明), who joined this year at No 676 with US$490 million, was a key witness against former Chongqing Chinese Communist Party secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙來) last month in China’s biggest corruption trial in decades.

Real estate businesswoman and recent divorcee Wu Yajun (吳亞軍) fell from No. 8 to No. 22 and her wealth dropped nearly a quarter to US$4.6 billion after she gave her ex-husband US$3 billion — propelling him into the top 50 in his own right.

Hurun called the transaction “the most expensive divorce settlement from a wife to her husband.”

Real estate was the biggest source of ultrarich fortunes, led by Wang, whose conglomerate Wanda Group (萬達集團) recently also acquired the US cinema chain AMC Entertainment and a luxury British yacht builder. However, Lei Jun (雷軍) of mobile phone maker Xiaomi (小米) rose the fastest in this year’s rankings after his worth shot up seven-fold to US$2.6 billion.