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Super-rich see their fortunes plunge as China economy slows

CARLOS DE SOUZA-UNSPLASH

CHINA’S super-rich saw their wealth tumble by the most in over two decades this year, as the Russia-Ukraine war, Beijing’s zero-COVID-19 measures and falling mainland and Hong Kong stock markets pummelled fortunes, an annual rich list said on Tuesday.

The Hurun Rich list, which ranks China’s wealthiest people with a minimum net worth of 5 billion yuan ($692 million), said only 1,305 people made the mark this year, down 11% from last year. Their total wealth was $3.5 trillion, down 18%.

Meanwhile, the number of individuals with $10 billion fell by 29 to 56, and the number of dollar billionaires dropped by 239 to 946 this year, it added.

“This year has seen the biggest fall in the Hurun China Rich List of the last 24 years,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of research firm Hurun Report which compiles the list.The global economic outlook has this year been heavily impacted by the war in Ukraine and slowing economic growth in China that has in turn been exacerbated by the country’s ultra-strict COVID-19 policies and a prolonged property slump.

A two-year regulatory crackdown that has hit China’s biggest tech names such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings and concerns that President Xi Jinping will sacrifice growth for ideology in his third term, have also weighed on investor confidence, with Hong Kong and mainland stock markets tumbling in recent weeks.

Yang Huiyan, the businesswoman behind Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd. 2007.HK, which like many other Chinese developers has been battling debt issues, saw her wealth fall by $15.7 billion, the biggest drop on the 2022 list.

Zhong Shanshan, whose listed companies are water bottler Nongfu Spring 9633.HK and vaccine developer Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, took first place on the list for the second year running, with a fortune that grew 17% to $65 billion.

The founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, Zhang Yiming, took second place, but saw his wealth fall 28% to $35 billion due to a drop in ByteDance’s valuation. In third place was Zeng Yuqun, chairman of battery giant CATL.

Tencent founder Pony Ma posted the second largest drop in wealth of $14.6 billion amid sliding tech stock prices, to take fifth place on the list. Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his family tumbled four places to be ranked No. 9. — Reuters

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