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Wed, Oct 14, 2009 - Page 10 News List

China’s super-rich getting richer

REUTERS , BEIJING

China’s super-rich have bounced back from the financial crisis with a vengeance. The country now has more known dollar-billionaires than any other country bar the US, a new report found.

The annual Hurun Report, released yesterday, said China has 130 known billionaires, up from 101 last year. The number in the US is 359, while Russia has 32 and India 24, Forbes magazine said.

China’s rich are getting richer, with the average wealth on the list of China’s 1,000 wealthiest people now at US$571 million — up almost one-third from last year — compiler Rupert Hoogewerf said.

“With the greatest wealth destruction in the West of the last 70 years, we’ve seen China buck the trend and the wealth seems to be still growing,” Hoogewerf said on the sidelines of an event to unveil the rich list.

“They’ve put the credit crunch behind them,” he said. “The key driver has been urbanization. You’ve got all these cities being built, and that requires property developers, iron and steel manufacturers. The latest thing is cars.”

Topping the list was Wang Chuanfu (王傳福), chairman of electric car maker BYD Co Ltd (比亞迪), in which the US’ Warren Buffett holds a stake, with an estimated personal wealth of US$5.1 billion. He was the fastest riser from last year, up 102 places.

Second place went to Zhang Yin (張茵) and family, owner of paper recycler Nine Dragons Paper (玖龍紙業), while in third place was Xu Rongmao (許榮茂) and family, owner of Shimao Property Holdings Ltd (世茂房地產控股).

Huang Guangyu (黃光裕), who founded GOME Electrical Appliances Holdings Ltd (國美電器控股) and owns unlisted property businesses, sank to 17th place from the top position he held last year. Huang is being probed for alleged financial irregularities.

Hoogewerf said the number of billionaires could be higher.

“Either they are super-discreet, or perhaps they haven’t come to the surface,” he said. “Having said that, the transparency of wealth ... is now very much in the open. There’s many more listed companies.”

Hoogewerf said people who probably should have been listed, but about whose wealth not enough is known, included Liu Chuanzhi (柳傳志), chairman of the world’s No. 4 PC maker Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想), and Chen Feng (陳鋒), founder of Hainan Airlines Co (海南航空).

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