October 7, 2008 / 8:06 AM / in 9 years

Market slump takes toll on China rich list

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Many of China’s richest people grew a bit poorer this year as stock and property markets tumbled, but the country’s wealthy are riding out the downturn better than many of their foreign counterparts, a survey showed on Tuesday.

<p>High fashion boutiques are seen inside the shopping arcade of the Four Seasons Hotel Macao, which opened in Macau August 28, 2008. REUTERS/Bobby Yip</p>

Real estate heiress Yang Huiyan, 27, saw her estimated fortune shrink to $4.9 billion from $17.5 billion as the market value of her stake in property developer Country Garden Holdings Co plunged, according to the latest annual Hurun Report, which ranked the country’s 1,000 richest people.

That pushed Yang, who ranked as China’s richest person last year, down to number three, said the report, compiled by researcher Rupert Hoogewerf.

Xu Rongmao, owner of Shimao Property Holdings Ltd, sank to number nine from third place last year, with his estimated wealth dwindling to $3.1 billion from $7.5 billion.

China’s benchmark stock index has fallen about 65 percent from its peak last October and property prices in major Chinese cities have eased with a slowing economy.

But Hoogewerf said China’s super-rich were holding up much better than those in the West.

“Chinese are cash-rich relative to certainly Europe and America,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of an event to unveil China’s rich list for 2008. “We still have 101 billionaires, only five fewer than last year.”

Huang Guangyu, who founded GOME Electrical Appliances Holdings and owns unlisted property businesses, topped the list this year for the third time in five years with an estimated fortune of $6.3 billion.

Second place belonged to Du Shuanghua, owner of Rizhao Steel in eastern China’s Shandong province, one of the largest private-sector steel mills in the country.

In a sign that more Chinese entrepreneurs are setting their sights on clean energy, two solar power executives made it to the list’s top 10 this year.

Peng Xiaofeng, chief executive of solar wafer maker LDK Solar Co, ranked number four with an estimated personal wealth of $3.7 billion. Shi Zhengrong, chief of solar products maker Suntech Power Holdings Co, was number seven with $3.2 billion.

NBA basketball player Yao Ming, 28, made the list this year for the first time, ranked 987, and was its youngest self-made millionaire, helped by sponsorship deals with Coca-Cola Co, China Life Insurance Co and other big names.

Reporting by Fang Yan; Editing by Bill Tarrant

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