Beverage magnate tops China's rich list; property slips

Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:20am EDT
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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's super-rich saw their wealth shrink this year as property lost its spot as the number one source of wealth for the first time since record-keeping began, China's annual rich list shows.

Nearly half of China's 1,000 or so richest individuals and families suffered a loss of wealth over the past year, mainly those involved in the solar, textiles and retail sectors, according to the China Rich List published annually by Hurun Report Inc.

China's richest person, Zong Qinghong, hails from Wahaha Group, China's leading beverage maker. Wang Jianlin, who holds the number two spot, is founder and chairman of property developer and cinema operator Dalian Wanda Group, which recently acquired U.S.-based AMC Entertainment.

Zong's fortune totals $12.6 billion, according to the report, while Wang trails at $10.3 billion.

The threshold to make the rich list fell by 9 percent to $290 million, but the lower figure is still three times higher than the cut-off in 2007.

China had 2.7 million U.S. dollar millionaires as of August 15 this year, the report said, while the number of dollar billionaires fell by 20 to 251.

Manufacturing replaced property as the top source of wealth for the ultra-wealthy. Property was number two, followed by finance and investment, natural resources, and pharmaceuticals.

Responding to public anger over soaring property prices, the government in 2010 launched policies aimed at cooling the market. Stock prices of listed developers have suffered as a result.

An unfortunate 469 individuals on the list have seen their wealth shrink since last year, while 291 saw their wealth grow, 114 stayed the same and 150 people appeared on the list for the first time.   Continued...