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Aging tycoons seek successors: Forbes

By Liang Fei (Global Times)

09:52, April 16, 2013

Forbes magazine published its annual Chinese rich list on Monday. Six out of the top 10 richest Chinese are aged above 80, and naming successors has become a pressing issue, said the report.

Eighty-four-year-old Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing topped the list for the 15th consecutive year with wealth of $31 billion. Sixty-seven-year-old Zong Qinghou, chairman of beverage maker Hangzhou Wahaha Group, is the youngest among the top 10.

Zong ranks ninth on the list with a wealth of $11.6 billion, which also makes him the richest mainlander this year.

Wang Danqing, partner of the Beijing-based ACME consultancy, told the Global Times Monday that company founders tend to retire older because their influence within the firms could mean their retirement would disturb operations.

Russell Flannery, Forbes' Shanghai bureau chief, told the Global Times Monday that many companies led by their founders are planning to turn over leadership to the next generation of the same family.

"The more children involved, the more complicated the balancing act can become," he said.

Li Ka-shing announced a clear split between his sons in July 2012, which seems to have achieved a good balance, but other companies have had a harder time, as when Hong Kong-based Sun Hung Kai Properties tried to divide interests among the founding family members, said Flannery.

"Family-run companies may also hire professional managers to operate their business, with the founding family having a controlling stake in the company, as the key goal is to maintain their wealth, not run the company," Wang noted.

The Forbes list reveals that the number of Chinese billionaires increased by 47 to 245 in 2013, while their wealth grew to $718.4 billion. Zhou Jiangong, editor-in-chief of Forbes' Chinese version, told the Global Times the rapid growth is mainly because of the recent rebound in the capital market.

The report also said mainland entrepreneurs have become a major force on the rich list, with 50 percent of the businessmen with wealth over $100 million coming from the mainland this year.

Baidu CEO Robin Li (Li Yanhong) and Sany president Liang Wengen have dropped off this year's list of the top 10 richest Chinese.

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