February 25, 2014 / 9:50 AM / 5 years ago

Property remains top wealth driver in China-Hurun list

BEIJING (Reuters) - Real estate remained the most lucrative road to riches in China last year, according to the Hurun Global Rich List, despite Beijing’s repeated efforts to cool red-hot property prices.

A labourer works at a construction site in Beijing, January 20, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Six of world’s 10 top real estate tycoons are now from China and Hong Kong, according to Hurun Report Inc, which released its Global Rich list on Tuesday.

Hong Kong property tycoon Li Kai-shing claimed the top spot in the Greater China area with his fortune rising 3 percent to 200 billion yuan ($32.80 billion).

Wang Jianlin, chairman of China’s largest commercial property developer, Dalian Wanda Group, and Lui Che-Woo, founder of casino operator, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd (0027.HK), were the runners-up with personal wealth of 150 billion yuan ($24.60 billion) each.

Wang’s fortune doubled last year, while Lui’s wealth jumped 108 percent, the report said.

Wang bought UK luxury yacht maker Sunseeker for $1.6 billion and is planning billion-dollar luxury hotel developments in London and New York.

Home prices in many Chinese cities continued to set records last year despite a four-year government campaign to cool the housing market, official data showed.<ID:3N0KT04X>

Lee Shau Kee, chairman and founder Henderson Land Development Co Ltd (0012.HK) and No. 3 on the global top 10 property developer’s list, saw his personal wealth shrink last year, dropping 9 percent to $21 billion. Developer Robert Kuok of the Kuok Group and No. 4 on the list, saw his fortune fall 16 percent to $16 billion.

In China, a country that is still transforming itself into a fully market-oriented economy, close ties between business and politics were also apparent.

Among the 358 Chinese billionaires, 87 had senior political associations. Fifty-six are members of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and 31 are members of

National People’s Congress (NPC), according to Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman of Hurun Report Inc.

Beverage magnate Zong Qinghou, founder of China’s leading beverage maker, Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co Ltd, is an NPC delegate, while Robin Li, founder and chief executive of China’s largest search engine, Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) is a CPPCC delegate.

The CPPCC and NPC are powerful political bodies that can help shape the country’s major political and economical decisions.

Fifty-seven Chinese billionaires come from Beijing, while 24 are from Shanghai and 27 from Shenzhen, the report said. Sixty-five billionaires are from Hong Kong.

($1 = 6.0984 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Fang Yan and Matthew Miller in BEIJING; Editing by Matt Driskill

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