Zhong Shanshan, founder of bottled water company Nongfu Spring, topped the Hurun China Rich List for the second time in a row this year. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)
The Hurun Research Institute in Chengdu, Sichuan province, released on Tuesday the Hurun China Rich List 2022, a ranking of the richest individuals in China.
The cutoff was 5 billion yuan ($690 million), and wealth calculations are from Sept 15, 2022. This is the list’s 24th year.
“Bottled Water King” Zhong Shanshan, 68, topped the Hurun China Rich List for the second time at $65 billion, up 17 percent.
Meanwhile, the drop in ByteDance’s valuation pushed 39-year-old TikTok founder Zhang Yiming’s wealth down 28 percent, to $35 billion, keeping him at second place. “Battery King” Robin Zeng Yuqun, 54, saw his wealth decline 28 percent to $32.9 billion, but still good enough for the top three.
“Bottled Water King” Zhong Shanshan, 68, topped the Hurun China Rich List for the second time at $65 billion, up 17 percent
Hurun Research found 1,305 individuals with wealth of more than 5 billion yuan, down 11 percent (160 individuals) from last year. Their total wealth dropped 18 percent from last year to $2.45 trillion. Only 411 entrepreneurs saw their wealth increase, of which 133 were new faces; 1,187 saw their wealth decrease or remain unchanged, and of that number, 293 dropped off the list this year.
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The top three cities with the highest concentration of entrepreneurs on the list were Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, followed by Hong Kong and Hangzhou. The average age of those on the list was 58, two years older than last year.
Over the past year, global stock markets have tumbled amid a combination of shocks, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes, and repeated COVID-19 outbreaks across China.
The top three cities with the highest concentration of entrepreneurs on the list were Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai, followed by Hong Kong and Hangzhou. The average age of those on the list was 58, two years older than last year
As of Sept 15, both the Nasdaq and Hang Seng stock indexes were down 24 percent from the same period last year. The Shenzhen Component Index was down 21 percent, and the Shanghai Composite Index was down 12 percent. The renminbi fell 8 percent against the dollar, according to Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher.
“This year has seen the biggest fall in the Hurun China Rich List of the last 24 years with the overall number of individuals down more than 10 percent and their wealth down by nearly 20 percent, driven largely by the drop in real estate and healthcare entrepreneurs,” Hoogewerf said.
“Part of the reason has been a global economy downturn, led by the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, a sharp drop in tech prices, and the generally slow post-COVID economic recovery, but also at the national level, the continued disruptions to the economy from localized COVID outbreaks.
“However, it is worth noting that although the number of individuals has decreased so much, it is still nearly 50 percent more than five years ago, four times that of 10 years ago, and more than 400 times that of 20 years ago.”
Where was growth coming from? More than 400 entrepreneurs saw their wealth increase over the past year, mainly in the sectors of industrial products, food and beverage, and energy.
This year has seen the biggest fall in the Hurun China Rich List of the last 24 years with the overall number of individuals down more than 10 percent and their wealth down by nearly 20 percent, driven largely by the drop in real estate and healthcare entrepreneurs.
Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher
“The post-pandemic economy has seen a number of pandemic ‘winners’, such as California-based Eric Yuan Zheng of video conference platform Zoom, and Jiang Rensheng of vaccine maker Zhifei, drop in value, with both Yuan and Jiang losing $10 billion in the past year,” Hoogewerf said.
“The number of entrepreneurs who made their fortunes from real estate continues to drop, from making up 50 percent of the Hurun China Rich List 20 years ago to 20 percent 10 years ago, 15 percent five years ago, and 10 percent this year. Healthcare is on the rise, up from 6 percent a decade ago to 9 percent this year, the third-largest source of wealth on the list. Industrial products still make up the largest source of wealth, accounting for 13 percent of the list,” he said.
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Overall, the proportion of “hidden heroes” entrepreneurs, selling to businesses directly rather than to consumers, has increased significantly in the past two years. They include the battery-maker Robin Zeng Yuqun of CATL, which serves the new-energy-vehicle industry.
Hurun Report has been promoting entrepreneurship through its lists and research since 1999. The rich list is an annual snapshot of China’s private sector. The stories of these entrepreneurs tell the story of China’s economy.