Dalian Wanda Owner Wang Jianlin Rockets To Top Spot On China’s Rich List

Wang Jianlin at the World Economic Forum in 2009. (World Economic Forum/flickr)

Wang Jianlin at the World Economic Forum in 2009. (World Economic Forum/flickr)

Bloomberg reported on Sunday that China’s billionaire club has a new leader: Wang Jianlin, owner of China’s biggest commercial land developer, has superseded Wahaha founder Zong Qinghou for the head position on the list of China’s wealthiest citizens.

With a net worth of $14.2 billion, Wang is now “$3.2 billion richer than Zong,” said Bloomberg, which has just released its annual Bloomberg Billionaires Index for 2013. His Dalian Wanda holdings include entertainment, culture, and department store units, which are illustrated in the chart below:

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As we can see from the chart, Wang’s recent business success is due in large part to the company’s diversification from property holdings alone into leisure and entertainment. Dalian Wanda has been particularly active in foreign acquisitions over the past year and a half, making a $2.6 billion acquisition of AMC Theaters in 2012.

The company also has its eye on the luxury industry. In June, it acquired British yachtmaker Sunseeker for $1.6 billion, a classic brand known for its appearances in James Bond films. Wanda also plans to invest $1.09 billion in building a luxury hotel in London’s South Bank, as well as undertake a luxury hotel project in New York. While the Sunseeker and AMC acquisitions stand to gain from those companies’ already extant brand heritage, Wanda has boldly chosen to make the London hotel self-branded.

In addition to these holdings are Wang’s massively successful line of shopping and entertainment centers, which are booming thanks to China’s rapidly growing consumer market. According to Bloomberg,

Over the next two decades, Wang built 72 shopping centers, called “Wanda Plazas,” anchored by his company’s department stores, office buildings and cinemas.

The timing was fortuitous. City dwellers in the world’s second-largest economy exceeded the number of people living in rural areas for the first time in China’s history in 2011. The urban population has grown at a 3.6 percent compound annual rate since 2002, or 21 million people per year. The mass migration accelerated personal income and consumer demand.

“Chinese consumption, particularly high-end consumption is booming,” Wang told reporters in Beijing in June. He plans to have 110 plazas by 2014.

Here are some additional facts about China’s billionaires: according to this year’s recently released Hurun report on the wealthiest people in China, there are 8,100 RMB billionaires, a number which went up by 600 since last year. In addition, many of them are women. One of the most striking facts about Chinese billionaires is the massive amount of “hidden” wealth they own, which Hurun has illustrated, quite fittingly, using an image to show that the wealth we know about is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to China’s elite:

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 1.02.19 AM

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