Country Garden’s Yang Huiyan has vaulted onto the top 10 list of China’s richest individuals, while Wanda boss Wang Jianlin was dethroned by Evergrande’s Xu Jiayin for the number one spot, according to the latest annual ranking published by the Hurun Report.
Thanks to a surge in the value of property shares as housing prices continue to rise in the country’s second and third tier cities, the trio of property developers dominate the top five slots for China’s wealthiest. The tally is up from two in 2016, with Tencent’s Pony Ma and Alibaba’s Jack Ma filling out the top five.
“The ‘Big Two’ are still from real estate and IT, however this year Xu Jiayin replaced Wang Jianlin, and Pony Ma replaced Jack Ma.” commented Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun Report in a statement.
Evergrande Boss Takes the Top Spot
Xu Jiayin, the 59-year-old chairman of China Evergrande, was crowned as the country’s richest person for the first time as his wealth nearly quadrupled to $43 billion this year. The Shenzhen-based firm, China’s largest homebuilder, posted an 832 percent surge in its first-half profit on the back of strong sales growth and falling debt.
Another big winner this year is Sunac’s Sun Hongbin, who saw his wealth jump 658 percent to $10.7 billion as his company’s market cap on the Hang Seng Index rocketed up 400 percent year-to-date. The Tianjin-based developer gobbled up a 91 percent stake in Dalian Wanda’s theme park portfolio for RMB 43.8 billion ($6.5 billion) in August.
Thanks to an upsurge in the value of Country Garden shares fuelled by China’s 2017 housing boom, Yang Huiyan was propelled from 22nd last year to the number four spot this year, with a net worth of $24 billion. The Ohio State University graduate serves as vice-chair of Country Garden, and is the Guangzhou-based developer’s largest shareholder after her father, Yang Guoqiang, transferred 70 percent of his holdings to her in 2007. During that year the then-twenty-something ranked as China’s richest person according to Hurun’s 2007 list.
Country Garden, which was China’s third-largest property firm by sales in 2016, reported a 39.2 percent rise in first-half profit in August.
Wanda Boss Learns that All Glory Is Fleeting
The ascent of other property magnates has cost Wanda’s Wang Jianlin his status of king of the hill, as the mall developer and would-be movie magnate slipped to fifth place. This is the first time that Wang has placed outside of China’s top three wealthiest people in the Hurun rankings in half a decade. The family wealth of the mall-and-cinema tycoon, which topped the list last year, has shrivelled by 28 percent year-on-year to $23 billion amid a regulatory smack-down of Dalian Wanda Group said to be ordered by President Xi Jinping.
Fugitive investor and real estate developer Guo Wengui dropped out of the contest this year as he is now based overseas – in a $68 million Manhattan penthouse, to be exact.
The moneyed individuals tracked by Hurun this year have a total wealth of $2.6 trillion – equal to the GDP of Britain. People from the real estate industry made up 14.6 percent of the overall list this year, down slightly from last year’s 15.4 percent.