Forbes Asia magazine published its list of China's 40 richest businesspeople yesterday and all the top ten were calculated to be US$-billionaires, compared to only three last year.
Larry Rong Zhijian, 63-year old chairman of Hong Kong-listed CITIC Pacific Group, maintained his position at the top with his net worth increasing US$150 million this year to US$1.64 billion.
In second place was real estate tycoon Zhu Mengyi, whose net worth was reckoned at US$1.43 billion. The 46-year old, who ranked 10th last year, saw his fortune triple in the past twelve months.
Third on the list was 34-year old William Ding Lei, founder of Internet portal NetEase. The NASDAQ-listed company's boss had an estimated fortune of nearly US$1.3 billion, up from US$668 million last year. He led the 2003 list but dropped to sixth last year following a downturn in the dotcom industry.
Wong Kwong Yu, founder of Gome, the mainland's largest home appliance retail chain, dropped from last year's second position to fourth.
But according to today's China Daily, the 36-year-old placed first on a competing list published by Euromoney China last month, which judged his wealth to be US$1.7 billion rather than Forbes' US$1.25 billion figure.
Another difference between the two lists was that Euromoney's No.2, Yan Jiehe, was not placed by Forbes at all. Euromoney estimated the 45-year old chairman of Pacific Construction Group to be worth US$1.5 billion.
Russell Flannery, chief of Forbes' Shanghai Bureau, said yesterday that due to the complicated financial structure of Yan's company, Forbes could not get a clear picture of his fortune. The magazine took a cautious attitude while compiling the list, he said.
Rebutting reports that Yan had reached a private agreement with Forbes not to put him on the list, Flannery said the magazine is closely watching Yan's company and would name him on a list in the future.
The youngest on the list was 24-year-old Li Zhaohui, at 26th place with an estimated wealth of US$410 million. He inherited his father's business, Shanxi-based Haixin Steel, last year.
The oldest was Chen Lihua, the 64-year old chairwoman of Fu Wah International HK Group, placed 19th with an estimated fortune of US$490 million.
(China Daily November 4, 2005)