China's Zhong Shanshan replaces Mukesh Ambani as Asia's richest person

Last updated on Dec 31, 2020, 01:12 pm
China's Zhong Shanshan replaces Mukesh Ambani as Asia's richest person

Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairperson and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani is no longer the richest person in Asia. That title now belongs to China's Zhong Shanshan, a vaccine magnate and the founder of the bottled water company Nongfu Spring. Zhong (66) is now the 11th richest person on the planet, yet the private billionaire remains largely unknown outside of China. Here's more about him.


Zhong's wealth surged $70.9 billion this year

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Zhong's net worth surged from $70.9 billion this year to $77.8 billion, in what is one of the fastest accumulations of wealth in history. Zhong has eclipsed Ambani along with a group of Chinese tech titans, including Jack Ma, who was Asia's richest before the RIL Chairperson. Notably, Chinese tech firms have tumbled, amid increased government scrutiny.


How did Zhong's wealth surge so quickly?

Zhong took vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. public in April. In September, Nongfu Spring raised about $1.1 billion in its initial public offering in Hong Kong. Nongfu's shares have jumped 155% since their debut, peaking this week as it solidified its market dominance. Wantai's shares have climbed over 2,000%. It is among the companies developing a COVID-19 vaccine.


Ambani's wealth grew $18.3 billion this year

Meanwhile, Ambani has also had a great year, with his fortune surging by $18.3 billion to $76.9 billion. His conglomerate RIL has notably shifted focus from oil to technology and e-commerce. Reliance's shares have, however, stalled, as Ambani faces pressure over digital transformation. Ambani, who was once the fourth-richest person on the planet, now takes the 12th spot, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Jack Ma

Ma has lost $11 billion since October amid government scrutiny

Separately, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma peaked with a net worth of $61.7 billion in October this year. The 56-year-old was expected to regain the title of Asia's richest, however, his fortune has tumbled to $50.9 billion. China has launched an investigation into suspected monopolistic activities by Alibaba. Authorities have also asked Alibaba to rectify its lending, insurance, and wealth management services.

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