Evergrande property tycoon tops China rich list

Mr Xu Jiayin's wealth is reportedly US$43 billion - a gain of about US$30 billion over last year.
Mr Xu Jiayin's wealth is reportedly US$43 billion - a gain of about US$30 billion over last year.

SHANGHAI • China has a new richest man, according to the annual Hurun rich list of the country's top movers and shakers.

Mr Xu Jiayin, chairman of developer China Evergrande Group, has seized top spot - beating out more familiar faces such as Alibaba Group boss Jack Ma and rival property magnate Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda Group.

Mr Xu's reported US$43 billion (S$58.2 billion) wealth - a gain of about US$30 billion over last year - comes as Evergrande's shares surge by over 450 per cent so far this year amid plans to cut debt and focus on profit over scale.

The Hurun Report, established in 1999, is the leading China-based organisation ranking the wealth of the country's rich and famous, and its list gives a temperature check on the winners and losers in China.

Growth in China stabilised this year, but while the world's second largest economy averted a hard landing, some major corporations have buckled under the weight of their debt or been sanctioned by the authorities over risky investments overseas.

Mr Wang - who took top spot for the last two years - dropped to fifth after Wanda sold off much of the firm's hotel and theme park assets to rivals in July, after coming under regulatory scrutiny over its high leverage.

The list also underlined those who have fallen from grace in corporate China. Founder Jia Yueting of sprawling conglomerate LeEco, that once looked to rival both Tesla and Netflix, dropped to 1,978th place from 31st last year.

The list, with a combined wealth of US$2.6 trillion, saw average wealth rising 12.5 per cent.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline 'Evergrande property tycoon tops China rich list'. Print Edition | Subscribe