Young billionaires are making it by themselves

Shanghai Daily, May 25, 2012

Yang Huiyan (R) and her husband at the wedding ceremony. [File photo]

Up to three-quarters of young billionaires on the Chinese mainland earned their money from investments or in business rather than inheritance, the "Richest Chinese Under Forty List" for 2012 shows.

Of 33 individuals under 40 with at least 1 billion yuan (US$158 million) in personal assets, only eight inherited from their families, according to the list released by the Hurun Research Institute yesterday.

Yang Huiyan, 31, second daughter of real estate tycoon Yang Guoqiang and biggest shareholder of her father's company Country Garden, tops the list with a 36 billion yuan fortune.

But 25 self-made billionaires made it onto the list, including six of the top 10.

"The findings defy the usual assumption that the young rich community in China is largely made up by heirs to old money," said Rupert Hoogewerf, researcher and publisher of the Hurun Report. "There are actually many rags-to-riches stories."

Fang Wei, 39, chairman of Beijing-based China Fangda Group, led the self-made billionaires with a 15 billion yuan fortune, ranking 2nd on the list.

Founded in 1991, the industrial group specializes in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, steel and iron products.

Chen Tianqiao, 39, chairman and CEO of Shenda Interactive Entertainment, was the second richest Chinese mainland entrepreneur with 9 billion yuan.

Founded in 1999 with 500,000 yuan, the online game operator has grown into an all-inclusive online entertainment flagship, running video websites, online communities as well as a user-driven literary platform said to be listed in the US soon. The company is expected to launch its self-developed mobile phone this year to diversify into the hardware sector.

Jiang Nanchun, 39, chairman and CEO of Focus Media, the biggest digital signage company in China, ranked third in the self-made category with 8 billion yuan. The Nasdaq-listed company made US$200 million in profits last year, which compared to a monthly revenue of less than 1 million yuan after its establishment in 2003.

Basketball start Yao Ming ranked last among self-made billionaires with 1 billion yuan. After retiring from the NBA last year, China's tallest superstar launched his own winery exclusively for the Chinese market.

The entertainment and information technology industry accounts for 15 percent of both self-made and inherited billionaires, with energy close behind on 13 percent. The manufacturing sector and the finance and investment industry account for 11 percent and 9 percent respectively.

Guangdong Province holds the lion's share in the billionaires club, boasting six entries this year, the most of all provinces and municipalities in China.

Shanghai is home to five listed individuals, followed by Beijing with four and Jiangsu, Sichuan, and Zhejiang provinces each with three.

The average age of the listed individuals is 35.5.

There are eight women on the list, including four self-made billionaires.