Earth-moving magnate tops yet another China rich list

Thu Sep 8, 2011 2:05am EDT
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By Jane Lee

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Forbes' latest ranking of China's richest people pits stolid industrial muscle against high-tech, with the head of an earth-moving company pipping the co-founder of the nation's biggest Internet search engine for the top spot.

Liang Wengen, the chairman of Sany Heavy Industry, came in at the top of Forbes Asia magazine's China rich list released on Thursday, a day after the rival Hurun Rich List also gave the top spot to the magnate, whose company makes earth-movers, pile drivers and concrete mixers powering the nation's urban transformation.

Forbes estimated Liang's wealth at $9.3 billion.

"This is a remarkable story of people growing up dirt poor in Changsha in Hunan Province, and from one group of people, getting seven of them on the Forbes China Rich List, including four billionaires," said Russell Flannery, a senior editor at Forbes who oversaw the compilation of this year's list.

Along with Liang, three other entrepreneurs associated with Sany are on the rich list: Tang Xiuguo, Mao Zhongwu of Xiang Wenbo. Liang, Mao and Tang were all founders of the company.

But Flannery said growing numbers of China's newly rich asked to be kept off the list, reflecting fears about the public jealousy and official scrutiny that wealth can bring in this country that is still run by a Communist Party.

Several once high-flying members of earlier rich lists have ended up in jail, including Huang Guangyu, the founder of Gome Electrical Appliance Holding Ltd, and Shanghai property tycoon Zhou Zhengyi.

"More people asked to be left off the list this year than in the last few years and I think it's a reflection in a bit of a sea change in Chinese society right now," said Flannery.   Continued...

<p>Liang Wengen (front), chairman and main shareholder of Sany Group, claps during a meeting in Changsha, Hunan province, June 10, 2005. REUTERS/China Daily</p>