Hui Ka Yan tops our list. (Imaginechina)
A year ago, property developer Hui Ka Yan was known for the high leverage of his listed real estate company, China Evergrande Group. The company’s debt is largely unchanged, but following an extraordinary rise in its stock price, Hui has notoriety of a different kind: He is the richest man in China and leads a 26% overall rise in the mainland’s top 400 fortunes this year.
Most notable are the gains of Internet entrepreneurs, manufacturers and property developers. In that last group, Hui’s $42.5 billion net worth takes him to a level no Chinese has scaled before. Evergrande’s profits grew ninefold in the first half of the year from residential and office projects, and the amazing 469% increase in its share price in the past year added a whopping $32 billion to Hui’s total, twice that of any other gainer on the list.
A rare real estate magnate to be diminished is last year’s leader, Wang Jianlin, who falls nearly $8 billion to No. 4 amid a major restructuring of his previously blossoming Dalian Wanda that included asset sales and a lower value for his U.S. movie theater chain, AMC, resulting from audience shifts.
Above him are the familiar Web pair of Tencent chairman “Pony” Ma Huateng, whose fortune climbed by 59% to $39 billion, and Jack Ma, boss of e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba, who slipped behind him by only $400 million.
Another big mover on this year’s list is No. 10, Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Group and owner of Volvo Cars, whose fortune increased by 217% on top of rising sales and profit.
The bouncy Chinese economy brought 53 new names into the 400 this year. Youngest of the lot is Zhang Yiming, 33, CEO of Beijing ByteDance Technology, whose app aggregates content for China’s many millions of smartphones. He debuts at No. 60, with a stake worth $4 billion. Moving up following a hot IPO, Wang Jian, chairman of genome-sequencing leader BGI, made his first appearance in the top 100 this year with an estimated $3.3 billion net worth.
Strong demand for smartphone glass screens lifted the fortune of Zhou Qunfei by 57% to $10.6 billion. Zhou, the richest self-made woman on the list and a former factory worker, founded and runs Shenzhen-listed Lens Technology, which supplies its product to the likes of Apple and Samsung.
Assets were calculated based on stock prices and exchange rates as of October 27. Some estimates include family members.