Real estate mogul Xu Jiayin, founder of China Evergrande, is now the country’s richest man after his wealth skyrocketed by 272% to $43 billion, according to the latest Hurun China Rich List.
Xu, also known as Hui Ka Yan, dethroned real estate and entertainment magnate Wang Jianlin in the closely watched list. Wang, who owns Dalian Wanda, plummeted to fifth place as his wealth shrunk by almost 30%.
Xu owns more than 70% of Evergrande, which has seen its shares gain more than 450% since the start of 2017. The developer has been buoyed this year by China’s red-hot property market, where prices have continued to rise despite government efforts to cool them.
Evergrande’s business is however built on a huge pile of debt nearly $50 billion at the end of 2016 raising concerns on its growth capability. Rating agency Fitch warned that Evergrande’s high interest expenses and payouts to shareholders would prevent it from reducing its debt significantly.
Xu isn’t the only real estate mogul to benefit from this year’s property boom. Yang Huiyan, the 36-year old heiress of property firm Country Garden and China’s richest woman, saw her fortune triple to $24 billion. She now ranks fourth on Hurun’s China rich list.
Pony Ma, founder of social media giant Tencent, climbed to second place. His wealth is up over 50% to $37 billion thanks to his company’s soaring stock price.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma fell one place to third, with his fortune inching down to $30 billion after he reduced his stake in lucrative Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial.
The co-founders of Chinese search engine Baidu and of electric carmaker Geely made it to 7th and 10th position respectively.
From a historical perspective China has increased the number of dollar billionaires from 1 in 1999 to an impressive 647 dollar billionaires in 2017.