Jack Ma tops Forbes China Rich List again; tycoons' wealth rises despite trade war

The total wealth of the country's 400 richest rises by more than a fifth despite slowdown and trade friction with the US

Published: Nov 7, 2019 11:38:05 AM IST
Updated: Nov 7, 2019 11:44:30 AM IST

g_123173_jack_ma_280x210.jpgJack Ma
Image: Charles Platiau/Reuters

China-US trade tensions have escalated over the past year, and the GDP growth of the world’s second largest economy has slowed to a near three-decade low. Even so, some of China’s richest kept flourishing, owing to increased consumption and spending. More than half of the 400 members on the 2019 Forbes China Rich List saw their wealth climb, and a quarter saw their fortunes fall. Their total wealth rose by more than a fifth from a year ago, from US$1.06 trillion to $1.29 trillion.

The minimum net worth to make it to this year’s list was $1 billion, as in 2017, a number that had dropped in 2018 to $840 million. Sixty newcomers made the cut this year.

On top of the list for the second year running is Jack Ma, who recently resigned as chairman of ecommerce giant Alibaba, which he cofounded, to focus on philanthropy. Ma’s fortune rose to $38.2 billion from $34.6 billion a year earlier, as the New York-listed Alibaba gained on China’s ecommerce boom. Tencent CEO Huateng “Pony” Ma ranks No. 2 with a net worth of $36 billion, followed by Evergrande Group’s chairman Hui Ka Yan, who retains his third place with a net worth of $27.7 billion.

Russell Flannery, editor-in-chief of Forbes China, said: “China's economic growth may be easing but the country’s savvy entrepreneurs continue to find ways to create new businesses and fortunes. Access to capital markets also notably helped.” 

Growing fortunes in online shopping appear throughout the list, and IPOs were another fuel for rising wealth. China’s slumping car sales hurt Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Group and main owner of Volvo, who ranks at No. 12 with a net worth of $12.9 billion, down from $14.2 billion.

The top 10 richest in China are:

1) Jack Ma; US$38.2 billion

2) Ma Huateng; $36 billion

3) Hui Ka Yan; $27.7 billion

4) Sun Piaoyang; $25.8 billion

5) Yang Huiyan; $23.9 billion

6) He Xiangjian; $23.2 billion

7) Colin Huang; $21.2 billion

8) William Ding; $17.2 billion

9) Qin Yinglin; $16.6 billion

10) Zhang Yiming; $16.2 billion

This list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and regulatory agencies. Assets were calculated using stock prices and exchange rates as of October 25. Private companies are valued based on similar companies that are publicly listed. Collateralised shares are discounted.

Unlike the Forbes Billionaires List, the Forbes China Rich List includes spouses who are involved in their partners’ business. Some estimates also include assets owned by additional family members.

The full list of China’s top 400 richest can be accessed at www.forbes.com/china and www.forbeschina.com.

(This story appears in the 22 November, 2019 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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