Business

China’s ultra-rich list shrinks for second straight year

BEIJING : The number of ultra-wealthy individuals dipped in China this year, a report said yesterday, as the government seeks to rebalance the economy and tackle high levels of toxic debt.

Those listed as the wealthiest - with holdings worth at least 2 billion yuan (S$387 million) - fell to 1,819 this year, down from 1,893 last year, according to the Hurun Report.

"This is the first time in 21 years that the Hurun (China) Rich List has shrunk for two consecutive years," said Hurun Report chairman Rupert Hoogewerf.

Traditional sectors such as manufacturing and real estate have suffered as companies "caught up in too much debt" have started shedding assets, affecting their founders' net worth, Mr Hoogewerf added.

"Nearly 40 per cent of those in the rich list two years ago has dropped off," he said.

"It's part of a very conscious decision by the Chinese government to try and restructure the economy."

Billionaires who made their money in IT, pharmaceuticals and education were replacing the old guard.

Mr Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba who stepped aside last month, retained the top spot for a second year with US$39 billion (S$54 billion) in personal wealth. He was closely followed by Mr Pony Ma, chairman and chief executive of Tencent, who has personal wealth of US$37 billion.

But real estate tycoon Wang Jianlin - one of China's richest men, who topped the list in 2017 - saw his wealth nearly halve to US$17 billion.

China now has 62 billionaires measured in US dollars, and 32 of those have more than US$10 billion. - AFP

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