Wei Gu
Wei Gu

Alibaba´s shares took a firm dive this week, and as a side-effect chairman Jack Ma might be losing his position as the country´s richest man, writes wealth editor Wei Gu in the WallStreetJournal. Property mogul Wang Jianlin might replace him.

Wei Gu:

A little-known new energy entrepreneur and a property tycoon are set to surpass Internet mogul Jack Ma as China’s richest man.

Ma, 51, and the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, saw $1.4 billion of his fortune wiped out Thursday following revelations earlier this week by a Chinese regulator that the company had lax oversight on counterfeit goods sold on its market places, as well as other alleged illegal activities on its sales platforms.

On Thursday in New York, Alibaba shares fell as much as 11% before closing down 8.8% following its lackluster earnings report, as its revenue growth of 40% missed analysts’ expectations, despite its sites hosting a record-breaking online sales day in November.

Ma owns 8.8% of Alibaba, according to the company’s IPO filing.

Alibaba’s shares are still trading  31% above their  initial public offering price in September, when its blockbuster $25 billion listing vaulted Mr. Ma to become China’s richest man. His wealth is now estimated to be $23.1 billion, down from $24.2 billion in mid-December, according to Chinese wealth tracker Hurun Report and a Wall Street Journal tally.

More Alibaba shares could flood the market when a lock-up period for shareholders expires. Some shareholders can sell up to 40% of their holdings 180 days after Alibaba’s listing in mid September. That would mean around mid-March.

Chinese property mogul Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, 61, has now surpassed Mr. Ma in terms of wealth. After successful listings of its commercial properties arm in Hong Kong in December and a cinemas unit in Shenzhen in January, his wealth has jumped to $28.1 billion, up from $23.4 billion in mid-December, according to Hurun and The Wall Street Journal’s calculation.

More in the Wall Street Journal.

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