Are you excited to see just how hard China is creeping up on the competition? I’m not…
The new list will be unveiled on Oct. 28 in Shanghai, and will coincide with the formal launch of ForbesChina.com, the Chinese-language web edition of Forbes China.
It was only several years ago that the Forbes China Rich List had only a few billionaires and tracked the wealth of only 100 people. Growing interest in China’s most successful businesspeople, wealth landscape and fast-growing economy has led us to expand the list over time. Last year, Forbes had a record 79 billionaires out of a total of 400 listees. On their global Forbes Billionaires List in March this year, we identified 64 billionaires from mainland China, led by Zong Qinghou, the chairman of Wahaha, China’s largest beverage producer, who had $7 billion of wealth. Only the U.S. had more billionaires.
So who will be number one this year? Among the top suspects this year are:
* Wang Chuanfu: The entrepreneur who ranked no. 1 on our China Rich List in 2009 last year has continued to benefit from close ties to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which owns 10% of Wang’s automaker BYD. Buffett just last month visited BYD’s factories in China and traveled around with Wang. Wang’s fortune was worth $5.8 billion a year ago, based on our estimate.
*Zong Qinghou: Since Zong’s Wahaha wound down legal disputes with Danone last year, a cloud of uncertainty around its future has lifted.
* Robin Li: The CEO of high-flying Chinese Internet search engine Baidu has enjoyed a big run up in the company’s stock price as rival Google has tumbled in China this year. Great investment by the way!
* Li Li: Big IPO by drug maker Shenzhen Hepalink, has made Li, who shares fortune with his wife, one of China’s wealthiest people.
* Liu Yongxing: Chairman of East Hope Group ranked no. 2 last year with wealth of $5.5 billion. East Hope has been expanding beyond its traditional feed business into industrial materials.
Who do you think will top the new list? How many billionaires will China have?