The downturn in China’s property market during 2014 has caused trouble for many investors, but now it even seems to be driving the nation’s property tycoons from the top of the country’s wealth ranks.
According to the latest China Rich List released by Forbes today, only one of China’s ten wealthiest people made his fortune in real estate, with the top three positions all being claimed by leaders of Internet companies.
The shift towards the media sector as a source of wealth both reflects a cyclical downturn in the real estate market and a potential long term shift away from investment-led development as China attempts to build a more sustainable development model and modernise its economy.
Only One Developer Among the Top Ten
At the top of Forbes rankings for 2014 is Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma, with an estimated fortune of $19.5 billion. Ma was able to move up from number 8 last year, thanks to the recent IPO of his ecommerce giant, displacing Wang Jianlin who held the top spot last year.
Next down the list is Baidu founder and CEO Robin Li, who moved up one position this year from his number three slot in 2013 with an estimated worth of $14.7 billion – up from $11.1 billion last year.
At number three on Forbes list is Tencent’s Ma, who thanks in part to the popularity of his company’s WeChat app and many other online products has amassed personal assets of $14.4 billion. Last year Ma’s worth was estimated at $10.2 billion, which ranked him fifth on the list.
Falling all the way to number four is Dalian Wanda boss, Wang Jianlin, who continues to be the wealthiest real estate billionaire on Forbes list. Thanks in part to a slide in real estate values, the former army officer saw his wealth slip from an estimated $14.8 billion last year, to $13.2 billion in 2014.
Rounding out the top five was energy magnate Li Hejun, whose stake in Hanenergy Holdings has helped him build a fortune of $12.6 billion.
No other real estate developer made it into the top ten position on the Forbes list.
China’s Ten Richest Real Estate Billionaires
In all, four of the top ten positions on Forbes list this year were snatched up by Internet billionaires, with JD.com boss Liu Qiangdong coming in at number ten with a fortune of $6.9 billion.
In all China’s real estate tycoons saw their fortunes take a turn for the worse this year with former seventh-ranked tycoon Yang Huiyan of Country Garden real estate seeing her fortune slide from $7.2 billion last year to $4.9 billion this year and her rank on the list fall to number nineteen.
Here are China’s top ten richest real estate billionaires according to Forbes
#4 Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda with a worth of $13.2 billion.
#13 Chan Laiwa of Fu Wah International Group with $6.1 billion.
#15 Hui Ya Kan of Evergrande Real Estate with a fortune of $5.9 billion. (In 2012, Hui had ranked #6 on Forbes list with assets of $6.2 billion).
#16 Hui Wing Mau of developer Shimao Property with assets of $5.4 billion.
#19 Yang Huiyan of Country Garden with $4.9 billion. (Yang had stood at #11 in 2012 with a fortune of $4.5 billion).
#21 Tong Jinquan of developer Summit with a worth of $4.8 billion.
#25 Guo Guangchang of Fosun, with $4.3 billion.
#28 Lu Zhiqiang of China Oceanwide Holdings with $3.8 billion.
#30 Zhang Xin of SOHO China with $3.7 billion.
#36 Wu Yajun of Longfor Properties with $3.2 billion. (In 2012, Wu had ranked #7 with a worth of 5.9 billion).
While some of the billionaires such as Hui Ya Kan, Yang Huiyan and Wu Yajun saw the declining value of their assets pull them down in the rankings, others such as SOHO’s Zhang Xin see themselves pushed aside in the rankings by billionaires from other industries, despite continuing to build their personal wealth.
For 2014, 22 of the top 100 billionaires on China’s list can trace their wealth to real estate investments, although many others have substantial amounts of real estate assets in their portfolios.