Zhong Shanshan, founder of the bottled water company Nongfu Spring, pushed Alibaba’s Jack Ma from his position as the richest in China. Rupert Hoogewerf, chief researcher of the Hurun China Rich List, explains how Zhong made it to the top, at CNN Business. Hoogewerf expects a new boom in billionaires from China, he says.
Zhong’s new status also puts him ahead of Pony Ma, who founded Tencent. Unlike Jack Ma and Pony Ma, Zhong is not a tech entrepreneur. Outside of his stake in Nongfu Spring, he is the head of a vaccine maker, Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy. That company went public in Shanghai this year, which also helped boost Zhong’s wealth.
“You would have typically expected the number one in China to come from [technology],” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman of wealth research firm Hurun Report.
Zhong is also known for being more low-profile and reclusive compared to other top business leaders, which has earned him the nickname “lone wolf.”
“He’s not known to have many entrepreneur friends,” said Hoogewerf, a longtime China watcher who is based in Shanghai. “He just kind of gets on with his own business.”
But even prior to his latest success, Zhong’s track record was impressive.
“Zhong Shanshan is one of the few people in China to not just build one $10 billion business, but two $10 billion businesses,” said Hoogewerf. “It’s pretty remarkable.”
Zhong’s ascent underscores the rapid pace of wealth creation in China.
Earlier this year, China was already home to most of the world’s billionaires, with more than the United States and India combined, according to a global rich list compiled by the Hurun Report….
A report released by Deloitte on Wednesday said that “several other developments are set to sustain the prevailing trend of listings in the Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong over the rest of this year,” including the approval of cross-listing rules and a new tech index in Hong Kong.
That will likely spawn even more billionaires in China, Hoogewerf predicts.
He estimates that about 100 new billionaires will be created in China this year because of the IPO boom. That’s “one every four days. Two a week,” he said.
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