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Oct 13, 2009

China has 130 billionaires

China’s super-rich have bounced back from the financial crisis with a vengeance, and the country now has more known dollar billionaires than any other country except the United States, according to a new report.

The annual Hurun Report released yesterday said China has 130 known US dollar billionaires, up from 101 last year.

The number in the US is 359 while Russia has 32 and India 24, according to Forbes magazine.

A Warren Buffett-backed car entrepreneur worth US$5.1 billion (RM17.2 billion) has surpassed a disgraced appliance tycoon to become the richest person in China.

Huang Guangyu, the richest man in China last year, dropped to 17th on the list this year with a worth of US$3.4 billion, after he resigned as chairman of the country’s biggest appliance chain while under investigation for alleged economic crimes.

Car mogul Wang Chuanfu, as chairman of BYD Co, made big strides in the past year to become the first carmaker to launch the mass production of a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

The company also secured backing from US billionaire investor Buffett, whose MidAmerican Energy Holdings has a 9.9 per cent stake in the Hong Kong-traded company.

With help from a growing domestic car industry, Wang’s 27.8. per cent stake in BYD elevated him 102 places in Hurun Rich List’s 2009 rankings.

Second place went to Zhang Yin and family, owner of paper recycler Nine Dragons Paper, while in third place was Xu Rongmao and family, owner of Shimao Property Holdings.

China’s rich are also getting richer, with the average wealth on the list standing at US$571 million, up almost one-third from last year, said compiler Rupert Hoogewerf.

“With the greatest wealth destruction in the West of the last 70 years, we’ve seen China buck the trend and the wealth seems to be still growing,” Hoogewerf told Reuters on the sidelines of an event to unveil the 2009 rich list.

“They’ve put the credit crunch behind them,” he said. “The key driver has been urbanisation. You’ve got all these cities being built, and that requires property developers, iron and steel manufacturers. The latest thing is cars.”

Hoogewerf also said the actual number of billionaires could be higher than estimated.

“Either they are super-discreet, or perhaps they haven’t come to the surface,” he said. “Having said that, the transparency of wealth... is now very much in the open. There’re many more listed companies.”

He said that among the people who probably should have been listed are Liu Chuanzhi, chairman of the world’s No. 4 PC maker Lenovo, and Chen Feng, founder of Hainan Airlines.

They are not on the list because it is not known how rich they really are.

Source : TMI
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