WITH a personal fortune of US$26 billion, solar power tycoon Li Hejun was yesterday named the richest person on China’s mainland.
According to the Hurun Global Rich List 2015, the boss of Beijing-based renewable energy firm Hanergy overtook Alibaba founder Jack Ma to become the 12th person in 16 years to take the title.
Li was one of 430 billionaires from China’s mainland to make the global ranking. The number was 72 more than last year — mostly due to the stock market boom — and cemented the country’s position as second only to the United States, which secured 537 places on the list.
At the top of the pile was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, whose personal wealth was estimated at US$85 billion.
China also claimed the title for the most “rags to riches” stories, accounting for 61 percent of the self-made billionaires, compared with just 13 percent for the US.
The mean age of the billionaires from China’s mainland was 58, a full six years lower than the global average of 64.
Five Chinese cities, including Hong Kong and Beijing, were among the top 20 “homes” of the super-rich.
By industry, most of the Chinese billionaires on the list made their fortunes from real estate. The segment was topped by Li Ka-shing from Hong Kong with US$32 billion, followed by Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group with US$25 billion, who also placed second overall for the Chinese mainland.
On a global scale, technology, media and telecoms were the key industries, said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report.
The “TMT” group included 297 billionaires from around the world, of which 41 were from China’s mainland. The tech sector was the third-biggest creator of billionaires on the Chinese mainland, after manufacturing, which produced 70.
The high market valuations of China’s technology stocks played a big role in boosting wealth in the sector.
The year’s biggest gainer was Liu Qiangdong of JD.com, who saw his personal wealth quadruple to US$6.7 billion following an initial public offering.
The personal wealth of Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma and his family soared in September following the company’s record-breaking US$25 billion initial public offering in New York.
But their combined fortune of US$24.5 billion was good enough only for third place on the list of the richest people on the Chinese mainland.