Caixin
Sep 24, 2020 04:46 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

China Has a New Richest Person, Dethroning Jack Ma

Zhong Shanshan attends a product launch conference on Feb. 1, 2015 in Baishan, Jilin province.  Photo: Bloomberg
Zhong Shanshan attends a product launch conference on Feb. 1, 2015 in Baishan, Jilin province. Photo: Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — A bottled-water and vaccine tycoon has become China’s wealthiest person in a day also marked by massive losses among the world’s tech elite.

Zhong Shanshan’s net worth reached $58.7 billion on Wednesday, $2 billion more than Jack Ma’s, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Zhong is now Asia’s second-richest person, behind India’s Mukesh Ambani, and is the 17th wealthiest in the world, ahead of Charles Koch and Phil Knight.

Nicknamed “Lone Wolf” for his eschewing of politics and clubby business groups, Zhong’s fortune has jumped $51.9 billion in 2020, more than anyone else in the world except Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk. Both suffered heavy declines on Wednesday as tech stocks stumbled and Tesla plunged after its “Battery Day” event fell short of expectations. Musk’s fortune dropped by almost $10 billion.

The initial public offering of bottled-water company Nongfu Spring Co. — which turned out to be Hong Kong’s most popular among retail investors — propelled Zhong to China’s top three richest earlier this month. That came after the April listing of vaccine-maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. pushed his net worth to $20 billion by early August.

Zhong now leads a wealth ranking in China that is typically dominated by people who made their fortunes from tech companies.

While Zhong has surpassed Ma as China’s wealthiest, the tech tycoon might soon regain the top spot, which he’s held for most of the past six years after Alibaba went public in the U.S. Ant Group’s IPO next month is poised to boost his fortune, with his stake estimated at $28 billion if the company achieves the $250 billion valuation people familiar with the matter have said it’s targeting.

Wednesday was brutal for U.S. tech stocks, which tumbled the most since earlier this month. The plunge in Musk’s wealth was the biggest among the people on the Bloomberg ranking of the world’s 500 richest, followed by Bezos, whose net worth dropped by $7.1 billion. Musk is now worth $93.2 billion and Bezos $178 billion. Zhong added almost $4 billion Wednesday, more than anyone else in the index.

Contact editor Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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