Fact Check

Billionaires: Top 10 China’s Richest People

Despite a global pandemic that continues to drive volatility in the stock markets, China’s billionaires are richer than ever.

The threshold to make Forbes’ China Rich List, a ranking of the Asian nation’s 400 wealthiest people, rose to $1.55 billion, up 55% from the $1 billion cutoff last year. Collectively, the 68 newcomers to the list are worth over $181 billion, with fortunes stemming from e-cigarettes and pharmaceuticals to electric cars and e-commerce.

The vast majority of the newcomers are self-made and became billionaires in the past seven months, thanks to either an IPO or a jump in the stock price of a company that was already listed. The richest newcomer is former dairy engineer Leng Youbin, chairman and CEO of infant formula maker China Feihe. The Beijing based firm was formed in 1962 as a state-owned company and Leng led its privatization in 2001, eventually gearing the business towards middle and high-end infant formula. It now claims to have a 25.5% market share of high end baby formulas in China, and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in November 2019. Leng, who owns roughly 45% of the company, is worth $9.9 billion.

The second richest newcomer on the list is Smoore’s Chen Zhiping, China’s first vaping billionaire. Founded by Chen in 2009, Smoore International Holdings supplies components for vaping devices to the likes of Japan Tobacco, British American Tobacco and NJOY; it also sells its own brand of vapes, also known as e-cigarettes. The Shenzhen based company says it was the world’s biggest vaping device manufacturer in 2019, based on its revenue of more than $1.1 billion. Chen, who is also the chairman and CEO, took Smoore public in July, raising more than $900 million on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The stock has shot up 20% since its debut, giving Chen a fortune of $9.55 billion. (Smoore cofounder Xiong Shaoming is also a billionaire, but fell below the cutoff for the China Rich list with a $1.45 billion fortune.)

Following Chen are brothers Ruan Liping and Ruan Xueping, with net worths of $6.86 billion and $6.85 billion. The duo founded electrical products supplier Gongniu Group, which manufactures wall sockets, power strips, light switches, circuit breakers and LED lights. The group’s name, which is Chinese for bulls, stems from Ruan Liping’s love of basketball superstar and former Chicago Bulls player Michael Jordan. The brothers, who founded the firm in 1995, took it public in February 2020; they still oversee the business as chairman and vice chairman.

In a year where Covid-19 dominated the headlines, it’s no surprise that the fastest way to the top in China is through healthcare. Almost one third — 22 of 68 — newcomers made their fortunes in the medical industry, from pharmaceuticals and biotech to medical equipment and private hospitals. The richest of the bunch is Contec Medical Systems’ Hu Kun, who took his company public in August. The firm, which produces devices like pulse oximeters, electrocardiographs and patient monitors, saw its shares more than double in price on its first day of trading; Hu is now worth $4.72 billion.

A fintech giant’s potential IPO has minted seven new China Rich List members. Ant Group, an offshoot of e-commerce giant Alibaba and the firm behind China’s popular online payment platform Alipay, has been preparing for a dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong in what is hailed as the biggest IPO in history. The listing was delayed by Chinese regulators on November 3, after Forbes finalized the rankings on October 26.  Filings show that several senior executives, including former CEO and current chairman Eric Jing, will become billionaires thanks to their shares in the company (Forbes applied a 10% discount to the IPO price of HK$80 and RMB 68.80, which was set on October 26.) A former executive at Pepsi-Co, Jing joined Alibaba in 2007 before taking the reins at Ant group.

Here are the 10 richest newcomers on the China Rich List; net worth estimates are as of October 26, 2020.  Yuan Liping is the only woman among the wealthiest newcomers.

1. Leng Youbin

Ontario government investing $24m in Feihe formula plant

Net worth: $9.9 billion

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Source: infant formula

  • Leng Youbin chairs China Feihe, one of China’s largest suppliers of infant formula.
  • China Feihe listed its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in late 2019.
  • Hongguang Dairy Plant, the predecessor of Feihe, was founded as a state-owned enterprise in 1962; the Feihe brand was officially born in 1984.
  • Leng graduated from Northeast Agricultural University in China’s northeast Heilongjiang Province in July 1995 through a correspondence course.
  • He holds an EMBA degree from Peking University.

2. Chen Zhiping

People Digest: Chen Zhiping joins TH Capital; Ant CEO exits Meizu Pay board

Net worth: $9.55 billion

Source: e-cigarettes

  • Chen Zhiping is the chairman and CEO of Smoore International, a supplier of vaping devices, and China’s first vaping billionaire.
  • Smoore International Holdings supplies components for vaping devices to Japan Tobacco, British American Tobacco and NJOY.
  • Smoore International went public in July 2020, raising more than $900 million on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • Smoore cofounder Xiong Shaoming is also a billionaire.

3. Ruan Liping

Ruan Liping

Net worth: $6.86 billion

Source: power strips

  • Ruan Liping chairs Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed power strip supplier Gongniu Group, which went public in February 2020.
  • Ruan hails from China’s eastern Zhejiang Province and graduated from Wuhan University with a major in engineering machinery major.
  • Ruan cofounded Gongniu with his brother Ruan Xueping, who is vice chairman of the company and is also a billionaire.
  • Ruan worked as a power strip salesman early in his career.
  • Ruan is a fan of NBA Chicago Bulls former star Michael Jordan,and named his company “Gongniu” — Chinese for “Bulls.”

4. Ruan Xueping

Net worth: $6.85 billion

Source: power strips

  • Ruan Xueping is the vice chairman of Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed power strip supplier Gongniu Group.
  • Ruan cofounded Gongniu with his elder brother Ruan Liping, who is now also a billionaire, in 1995.
  • Gongniu went public in February 2020.
  • Both brothers hold Hong Kong citizenship.

5. Li Jianquan

li jianquan – SupChina

Net worth: $6.6 billion

Source: consumer products

  • Li Jianquan chairs Winner Medical, a supplier of disposable wound care and surgical products.
  • Winner, which began manufacturing cotton-based medical dressings in 1991, went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in September 2020.
  • The company also makes protective face masks and surgical gowns, as well as bandages and gauze products.
  • Winner products are sold at more than 40,000 pharmacies across China and in more than 70 countries.

6. Ruan Hongliang

LONGi and FLAT Signed Long-term Procurement Contract - NEWS - LONGi

Net worth: $5.77 billion

Source: glass

  • Ruan Hongliang is founder, chairman and general manager of Flat Glass Group, a specialized glass manufacturer.
  • Founded in 1998, Flat Group is headquartered in the city of Jiaxing in China’s Zhejiang Province.
  • Flat Group supplies floating glass, solar photovoltaic glass, engineering glass, and constructs power stations.
  • The company went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in November 2015.
  • Flat Glass also listed shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in February 2019.

7. Hu Kun

Net worth: $4.72 billion

Source: medical equipment

  • Hu Kun chairs Shenzhen-listed Contec Medical Systems, a supplier of medical instruments.
  • Contec went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in August 2020.
  • More than 70% of Contec’s revenue comes from overseas.

8. Steven Meng Yang

Net worth: $4.2 billion

Source: electronics

  • Steven Yang is the founder and CEO of Anker Innovations Technology, a supplier of smart charging technologies and a developer of consumer products.
  • Yang holds a degree in computer science and technology from Peking University.
  • He received a master’s degree in computing from the University of Texas at Austin and then worked as an engineer at Google in the United States.
  • In 2011, he returned to China and founded Anker Innovations.
  • Ankor went public in China in August 2020.

9. Yuan Liping

Net worth: $4.04 billion

Source: pharmaceuticals

  • Yuan Liping received a 24% stake in Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products in 2020 after she divorced Du Weimin, Kantai’s chairman.
  • Yuan was deputy general manager at Kangtai Biological Products from 2012-2015 and a company director from 2012-2015.
  • Yuan has been deputy general manager of Kangtai subsidiary Beijing Minhai Biotechnology since March 2017.

10. Ye Guofu 

Net worth: $3.64 billion

  • Ye Guofu is the founder and CEO of Japan-inspired retailer Miniso, known for its dollar stores that sell mascara for $1.50 and headphones for $6.
  • Ye gained inspiration for Miniso while on vacation with his family in Japan in 2013.
  • The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in October 2020.
  • Miniso has more than 4,200 stores in over 80 countries and regions.
  • Ye holds a degree from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.

Methodology: This list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and regulatory agencies. Private companies are valued based on similar companies that are publicly listed. Collateralized shares are discounted. Unlike the Forbes World’s Billionaires list, this list includes spouses who are involved in their partners’ business. To facilitate comparisons of success among those with similar backgrounds, some entrepreneurs born in mainland China are included who make their money there but whose citizenship is outside of mainland China. Some estimates also include assets owned by other family members.

Source: retail

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