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

Wed Sep 11, 2013 12:36am EDT
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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: Quote) Pony Ma, real estate developer Yang Huiyan of Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd (2007.HK: Quote) and auto maker Wei Jianjun of Great Wall Motor Co Ltd (601633.SS: Quote), saw their wealth climb a combined 80 percent against 2012.   Continued...

Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, touches his face during an interview at his office in the company's headquarters in Beijing December 3, 2012. REUTERS/Suzie Wong