China's super rich see fortunes plunge as economy slows

The number of individuals with US$10 billion fell by 29 to 56, and the number of dollar billionaires dropped by 239 to 946. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI - China’s super rich saw their wealth tumble by the most in over two decades this year, as the Russia-Ukraine war, Beijing’s zero-Covid-19 measures and falling mainland and Hong Kong stock markets pummelled fortunes, an annual rich list said on Tuesday.

The Hurun rich list, which ranks China’s wealthiest people with a minimum net worth of 5 billion yuan (S$969 million), said only 1,305 people made the mark this year, down 11 per cent from last year. Their total wealth was US$3.5 trillion (S$4.9 trillion), down 18 per cent.

Meanwhile, the number of individuals with US$10 billion fell by 29 to 56, and the number of dollar billionaires dropped by 239 to 946 this year.

“This year has seen the biggest fall in the Hurun China Rich List of the last 24 years,” said Mr Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of research firm Hurun Report, which compiles the list.

The global economic outlook has this year been heavily impacted by the war in Ukraine and slowing economic growth in China that has in turn been exacerbated by the country’s ultra-strict Covid-19 policies and a prolonged property slump.

A two-year regulatory crackdown that has hit China’s biggest tech names such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, and concerns that President Xi Jinping will sacrifice growth for ideology in his third term, have also weighed on investor confidence, with Hong Kong and mainland stock markets tumbling in recent weeks.

Ms Yang Huiyan, the woman behind Country Garden Holdings, which like many other Chinese developers has been battling debt issues, saw her wealth fall by US$15.7 billion, the biggest drop on the 2022 list.

Mr Zhong Shanshan, whose listed companies are water bottler Nongfu Spring and vaccine developer Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, took first place on the list for the second year running, with a fortune that grew 17 per cent to US$65 billion.

The founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, Mr Zhang Yiming, came in second, but saw his wealth fall 28 per cent to US$35 billion due to a drop in ByteDance’s valuation. In third place was Mr Zeng Yuqun, chairman of battery giant CATL.

Tencent founder Pony Ma posted the second-largest drop in wealth of US$14.6 billion amid sliding tech stock prices to take fifth place on the list.

Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his family tumbled four places to be ranked No. 9. REUTERS

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