China's low-profile takeover king shoots up rich list ranks

HONG KONG – A low-profile tycoon has rocketed up the ranks of China’s wealthy after a hostile takeover he launched for the country’s biggest property developer helped swell his fortunes, a report said Thursday.

Yao Zhenhua’s wealth surged ninefold to $17.2 billion, making him China’s fourth richest person on the Hurun Report’s annual ranking. Last year he was estimated to be worth just under $2 billion, putting him at No. 231.

There was little change at the top of Hurun’s list .

Property and entertainment mogul Wang Jianlin held on to top spot, with Hurun putting his wealth $32.1 billion.

Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba, stayed at second place even as his wealth swelled 41 per cent to $30.6 billion thanks to the e-commerce giant’s rising share price this year. Ma Huateng of Tencent Ltd., which runs the popular WeChat social media service, moved up one spot to third with a fortune estimated at $24.6 billion.

Hurun Chairman Rupert Hoogewerf said Yao’s rise illustrated shifts in China’s maturing economy.

“Yao’s financial investment model represents the new wave of wealth creation in China,” said Hoogewerf. “The first money made in China 20 years ago came from trading, followed by manufacturing, real estate, IT, and today it is about using the capital markets for financial investments.”

Yao, 46, is chairman of Baoneng Group, a real estate and financial services group based in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen. His privately owned company has made waves over the past year by amassing 25 per cent of China Vanke’s shares, leading to a bitter and prolonged takeover battle for the homebuilder, which is based in the same city. Yao’s wealth soared as speculation about Baoneng’s bid sent Vanke’s mainland China-listed shares surging.

Shanghai-based Hurun publishes a monthly magazine and releases yearly rankings and research about the world’s richest people and their spending habits.


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