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Machinery tycoon tops wealth list

(Shanghai Daily)

08:33, September 08, 2011

Shanghai--Heavy machinery magnate Liang Wengen has knocked beverage tycoon Zong Qinghou off the top of the Chinese mainland's rich list.

The personal wealth of Liang, founder and chairman of heavy machinery manufacturer Sany Group, tops 70 billion yuan (US$11 billion), according to the 2011 Hurun Rich List, released yesterday.

Liang, 55, owns 58 percent of Sany. Founded in 1989 as a small welding materials factory in central China's Hunan Province, it is now the country's biggest maker of construction equipment.

The company's share price has risen from a 52-week low of 8.19 yuan to its current 15.59 yuan, and it has plans to go public in Hong Kong.

Zong, 66, founder and CEO of Hangzhou-based soft drinks company Wahaha, is second this year with 68 billion yuan.

Robin Li, 43, founder and CEO of web services company Baidu, is third with 56 billion yuan.

Baidu took advantage of Google's withdrawal from the market last year to establish its leadership in Chinese Internet search services.

The list comprises 1,000 of the richest people on the mainland. Their average age is 51 and their average wealth is 5.9 billion yuan, 20 percent higher than a year ago.

Shanghai is home to 80 people on the list, third in the country. Beijing is where 111 of the super rich live, followed by Shenzhen with 83.

The number of US dollar billionaires this year reached 271, up from last year's 189 and 2009's 130.

"China's rich have defied the global financial crisis with another record year of growth," said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman of the Hurun Research Institute.

The construction boom was the key contributor to wealth this year. Real estate tycoons constitute 23.5 percent of the list, making the sector the top wealth source.

Four of the top 10 richest are real estate developers compared with just a year ago. Hui Ka Yan, chairman of Evergrande, ranks fifth on the list, up 20 places from last year to replace Wang Jianlin of Wanda as the wealthiest man in the property industry. Hui's wealth shot up to US$7.2 billion, almost double that of last year. Wang ranks sixth this year with a 30 percent increase in his fortune.

Still, with all of its rich, China has not cracked the world's top 10, as measured by the March 2011 Forbes rankings, in which US citizens held four spots. The top was Mexico's Carlos Slim, with a reported US$74 billion.

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