Property regains top spot as driver of wealth for China’s richest; One in four members on the rich list made their money in China’s real estate industry, overtaking manufacturing as the most common source of wealth

Property regains top spot as driver of wealth for China’s richest

12:36am EDT

By Adam Jourdan

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s property industry reclaimed its spot as the number one source of income in the past year for the mainland’s wealthy, according to the China Rich List published annually by Hurun Report Inc. One in four members on the rich list made their money in China’s real estate industry, overtaking manufacturing as the most common source of wealth. Six out of the top 10 made their money in the construction sector.Land prices in China have hit record highs in recent weeks, reflecting strong demand for property and presenting a quandary to China’s leaders who are trying to prevent a housing bubble while supporting the sector, which is a key driver of economic growth.

Real estate tycoon Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, rose to the number one spot as his fortune doubled to $22 billion, overtaking beverage magnate Zong Qinghou.

Wang, the head of China’s largest commercial real estate developer, bought UK luxury yacht maker Sunseeker for $1.6 billion and is planning billion-dollar luxury hotel developments in London and New York.

Zong, chairman of privately-held Wahaha Group, China’s leading beverage maker, saw his personal fortune climb 48 percent, but still fell to second place with $18.7 billion.

The 1,000 wealthiest people in China saw their combined worth rebound 27 percent after last year’s decline and nearly six in 10 saw their personal fortunes climb, the report added.

The top five richest individuals, including new faces like Tencent Holding’s (0700.HK: QuoteProfile,ResearchStock Buzz) Pony Ma, real estate developer Yang Huiyan of Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd (2007.HK: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz) and auto maker Wei Jianjun of Great Wall Motor Co Ltd (601633.SS: QuoteProfileResearchStock Buzz), saw their wealth climb a combined 80 percent against 2012.

The total number of billionaires in China rose 25 percent to a total of 315 individuals, according to the report, even as China’s broader economy has slowed for nine of the past 10 quarters.

China’s wealthy do not always enjoy the limelight of making the rich list. President Xi Jinping has been leading a crackdown on extravagance that has ensnared senior politicians and business people, while shows of excess often spark online naming and shaming from China’s army of microbloggers.

Sectors that rose on the list included IT and entertainment, pharmaceuticals, investment and cars, the report said. However, natural resources, retail, manufacturing, steel and apparel all saw their numbers fall between 5-10 percent.

The close ties between business and politics were also apparent as 153 individuals on the 2013 list were appointed to either the National People’s Congress or the China’s People’s Political Consultative Conference, the report said.

“Strong performances in real estate and IT have driven China’s richest to new records,” Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and chairman of Hurun Report, said in a statement.

Hoogewerf, a British accountant, began publishing the list in 1999. It draws from a broad range of sources and the report has conceded that “valuing the wealth of China’s richest is as much an art as it is a science”.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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