While the global economy is showing jitters and signs of strain from the spread of the coronavirus, billionaires around the world, and in particular in China, are nevertheless having a record year, according to Hurun’s 2020 Rich List.
Notwithstanding, a slowing overall economy and trade war with the U.S., the newly released ranking shows that the number of billionaires in China is growing at a record clip, and equals the number of billionaires found in the U.S. and India combined. It was only in 2016 that China overtook the U.S. for the country with the greatest number of billionaires, although the U.S. strongly dominates among the ultra-elite with seven of the top 10 world’s richest from the country.
“A boom in tech valuations and strong stock markets across the U.S., India and China propelled the billionaires to record heights,” said Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf. “The U.S. had a record number of 626 billionaires. China, despite the trade war, added 182 new faces to hit 799 billionaires, three times the number of new faces in the U.S., widening the gap with the U.S.”
“Despite a sell-off on the first day after stock markets reopened after Chinese New Year on the back of coronavirus, China’s stock market has rallied by 14 percent since last year’s list,” he added. “It has been a good year for the stock markets generally. Nasdaq led the way with a 26 percent increase, whilst India and China’s stock markets rose 15 percent and 14 percent. The U.S. dollar continued its strength, albeit with only small appreciations of 3 percent against the Chinese yuan and euro, and 1 percent against the Indian rupee. The Russian ruble rose 7 percent against the dollar, reversing a trend of depreciation over the past two years.”
There were 17 new entrants to the top 100 list, led by MacKenzie Bezos of Amazon, who shot straight to 22nd place with $44 billion, post-divorce with Jeff Bezos.
The highest-ranking fashion fortune belonged to LVMH’s Bernard Arnault, the only non-American in the top 10. The 70-year-old businessman continued his strong momentum up the rankings, rising two spots to second place overall with $107 billion. Arnault was briefly the richest person in the world this past year before Amazon’s share price spike took Bezos to the top again, Hurun said.
The next highest-ranking fashion magnate was Inditex’s Armancio Ortega, who moved up one spot to place sixth on the back of a heady $25 billion jump to $81 billion.
Fast Retailing’s Tadashi Yanai, the owner of clothes retailer Uniqlo, also saw his wealth increase by more than 40 percent to propel him into the top 100 for the first time.
While shares of hospitality and travel firms have dropped due to the coronavirus, it has also created what Hurun called “mini booms” in China for companies that deal in pharmaceuticals, online education and online games.
“With schools shut since Chinese New Year, online education provider Chen Xiangdong [$4.7 billion] of Genshuixue saw his share price rise by a third since end January, and market leader Zhang Bangxin [$10.4 billion] of TAL Education also rising,” the report said.
“With much of China stuck at home in lockdown, entertainment has been in strong demand, resulting in strong performances from online game companies, including Wu Xushun [$2.4 billion] of 37 Interactive Entertainment, up 29 percent, Chu Yufeng [$5.1 billion] of Perfect World up 17 percent, Lin Qi [$1.2 billion] of Yoozoo, up 8 percent, as well as Robin Li of Baidu, whose online video platform iQiyi rose 8 percent.”
There were no surprises among China’s very richest — Jack Ma Yun of Alibaba led with $45 billion, just ahead of Pony Ma Huateng of Tencent ($44 billion) and followed by Xu Jiayin of Evergrande ($33 billion), Li Ka-shing, ($28 billion) and Lee Shau Kee ($27 billion), but the report highlighted some of the country’s ones to watch.
They were: Beijing-based Zhang Yiming, 37, at $13.8 billion, who founded ByteDance, the parent to the immensely popular video platform TikTok; Wang Xing of Meituan-Dianping, whose wealth doubled to $7.6 billion, and Colin Huang Zheng of Pinduoduo, the e-commerce platform that specializes on selling affordable products in lower-tier cities and was founded less than five years ago.
The average age of a Chinese billionaire is 59, five years younger than the average of the global list. China is the country home to the most self-made billionaires and is home to half of the world’s self-made female billionaires.
Top 25 Global Billionaires according to Hurun’s 2020 Rich List
1. Jeff Bezos | $140 billion | Amazon
2. Bernard Arnault | $107 billion | LVMH
3. Bill Gates | $106 billion | Microsoft
4. Warren Buffett | $102 billion | Berkshire Hathaway
5. Mark Zuckerberg | $84 billion | Facebook
6. Amancio Ortega | $81 billion | Inditex
7. Carlos Slim Helu and family | $72 billion | America Movil
8. Sergey Brin | $68 billion | Google
9. Larry Page | $67 billion | Google
9. Mukesh Ambani | $67 billion | Reliance
9. Steve Ballmer | $67 billion | Microsoft
12. Alice Walton | $59 billion | Walmart
13. Michael Bloomberg | $58 billion | Bloomberg
14. Jim Walton | $57 billion | Walmart
15. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers | $56 billion | L’Oréal
16. Bertrand Puech and family | $55 billion | Hermès
16. Robson Walton | $55 billion | Walmart
18. Larry Ellison | $54 billion | Oracle
19. Phil Knight | $49 billion | Nike
20. Elon Musk | $46 billion | Tesla Motors
21. Jack Ma Yun and family | $45 billion | Alibaba
22. Francois Pinault and family | $44 billion | Kering
23. Pony Ma Huateng | $44 billion | Tencent
24. MacKenzie Bezos | $44 billion | Amazon
25. Charles Koch | $39 billion | Koch Industries
25. Julia Koch and family | $39 billion | Koch Industries