Jack Ma replaces Wang Jianlin to top Fortune 500 rich list

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Jack Ma, left, has replaced Wang Jianlin, right, as the richest man in China, according to Fortune's rich list. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma and Tencent Holdings’ Pony Ma topped the list of the richest people in China, thanks to the global optimism for top internet stocks.

According to the Fortune Global 500, Alibaba made number 462 while Tencent made 476th. The two debuted on the prestigious list, which ranks corporates by revenue, showing the increasing dominance of mainland companies on the world stage.

That made Jack Ma, who is worth US$35.4 billion, based on his stake in China’s largest e-commerce player, the richest man in China.

He topped rival Pony Ma, who is worth $33.8 billion, based on his stake in China’s largest online game and instant messaging operator.

Both topped tycoon Li Ka-shing, who owns a sprawling empire in everything from mobile phone to container ports to infrastructure projects to property – except internet. Hong Kong’s richest man is worth $33.5 billion.

Rounding off the list of China’s top five were two property tycoons –Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin ($30.4 billion), who was formerly Forbes’ richest man in China, and Henderson Land chairman Lee Shau-kee ($26.4 billion).

Based on these rankings, one could suggest that the boom in “new economy” businesses is outshining traditional businesses.

According to Ming Pao, a Hong Kong newspaper, four out of the 10 richest men in China are in “new economy” businesses. Their total wealth was put at $101 billion, or an average of $25.25 billion per person.

That was higher than the six other tycoons, who run traditional businesses such as property. This group have assets averaging nearly $20 billion each, based on total wealth of $119.9 billion.

The number of Chinese companies listed on Fortune’s Global 500 has grown for 14 consecutive years. This year, 10 new companies made the list – there are now some 109 firms from China in the top 500.

Ranked by revenue, State Grid Corporation of China, Sinopec and PetroChina took the second, third and fourth places on the Global 500 list.

In terms of profit, the four national banks – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agriculture Bank of China and Bank of China dominated the list, which is topped by Apple Inc.

Although Tencent, whose shares surged 58% in the year-to-date, is the largest company in Hong Kong in terms of market capitalization, it is far from the biggest company in its Shenzhen headquarters. Tencent ranked sixth behind Ping An Insurance, Huawei Technologies, Amer International Group, China Vanke and China Merchants Bank.

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