Alibaba's Jack Ma rises to top of China rich list as tech tycoons gain

Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:49am EDT
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By Gerry Shih

BEIJING (Reuters) - Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N: Quote), has become China's richest man with a fortune estimated at $25 billion, underscoring the ascension of tech tycoons over real estate peers in the world's second biggest economy.

Ma knocked Wang Jianlin, head of the Wanda property group, into second place with $24.2 billion, according to this year's list of China's super-rich published by Hurun Reports Inc.

Tech billionaires accounted for half of the top 10 names and included Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK: Quote) founder Pony Ma in fifth place with a $18.1 billion fortune and Baidu Inc (BIDU.O: Quote) CEO Robin Li in sixth position with $17.5 billion.

Making the top 10 for the first time were cellphone company Xiaomi Inc [XTC.UL] co-founder Lei Jun and e-commerce entrepreneur Liu Qiangdong who led (JD.O: Quote) to a New York listing this year - in ninth and tenth position respectively.

While six real estate developers occupied the top 10 places in 2013, just two made the cut this year, a reflection of a Chinese housing market that has stalled for several quarters.

Although the vast majority of the roughly 1,100 people tracked by Hurun saw their wealth grow, it's tense times for the Chinese elite as President Xi Jinping's administration continues its far-reaching corruption crackdown in both the public and private sectors.

According to Hurun, five members of its rich list are under investigation, two have been imprisoned, two are awaiting sentencing, one has been sentenced to death, while one - the flamboyant Sichuan businessman Li Yan - has disappeared altogether.

Hurun said it counted a record 354 U.S. dollar billionaires in mainland China, up 13 percent from last year and which compares with just 65 billionaires in 2012.   Continued...

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma waits for an interview at the New York Stock Exchange before the company's initial public offering (IPO) under the ticker "BABA", in New York September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson