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Property Boom Spurs Billionaire Boom in China

Despite efforts to regulate real estate speculation and cut back on major infrastructure projects in Beijing, China’s property and construction moguls took top spots on a survey of the wealthiest individuals that was released on Wednesday.

Liang Wengen (pictured), chairman of heavy equipment manufacturer Sany Group, took the number one spot on the latest China Rich List released by the Hurun Report, a luxury publishing and events firm. Wengen’s fortune is values at $11 billion and it is reported that much of this wealth comes from the appreciation of shares of the parent company Sany Heavy Industry Co., which is listed in Shanghai.

Last year, Wengen came in at number four on the list, but his secretary said he was declining comment about his wealth estimate.

Coming in at number two on the list is Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co. Chairman Zong Qinghou, who is estimated to have $10.7 billion from the beverage industry. Qinghou is followed by Robin Li, founder of Internet search provider Baidu Inc. who came in at number three.

Four of the top ten listed were property developers while 29 of the 50 had considerable property businesses. Hurun said, “China’s relentless construction boom coupled with a growing domestic retail market have been the key drivers for the growth in wealth.”

Despite efforts to measure China’s billionaire’s wealth, much of the country’s personal wealth is kept very private for tax and other reasons; so all estimates are just that, estimates.

Hurun’s chairman and chief researchers, Rupert Hoogewerf said, “China can claim at least 271 billionaires in U.S. dollar terms, up from 189 last year, but you can double the real number of billionaires in China to nearer 600.”

Beijing has made efforts to cool the economy and ease pressure on Chinese households because, in part, of rising property prices. Earlier this year, China imposed curbs on home purchases in 40 major cities and the housing ministry may join forces with other local governments to further property curbs.

Source and Photo: Wall Street Journal

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014