Alibaba Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma inched past Dalian Wanda Group’s Wang Jianlin to once again become China’s wealthiest man, according to Forbes estimates. As of Tuesday, Ma was worth US$31.1 billion, while Wang’s fortune totaled US$30.9 billion.
The head of China’s e-commerce giant can attribute his new status to the fact that Alibaba’s share price has surged by one-third this year against a backdrop of growing Alibaba profits. Ma has a 7.8 percent stake in Alibaba, but he also has an almost 50 percent stake in Alipay, which falls under Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial. The third-party mobile payment system has recently been pushing hard for global growth, with an aim to capture an expanding market of Chinese travelers shopping abroad. In just the last few months, Alipay has expanded to Italy and extended its presence further into the United States.
Wang Jianlin, whose main assets are in real estate, entertainment, and more recently, healthcare, set records last year when he broke into the world’s top 20 billionaire list compiled by Forbes. His company’s luxury hotel arm has also been focused on international expansion after recently hitting 100 properties in China. In the United States, Wanda has five-star hotel and residence properties in Los Angeles and Chicago in the works.
Jack Ma has overtaken Wang Jianlin as China’s wealthiest man before, but was dethroned two years ago.
China’s Forbes billionaire list keeps growing overall, reaching a record 400 members in 2016, but it’s not the only list keeping tabs on China’s swelling wealth. Earlier this month, Chinese business magazine New Fortune caused a bit of a stir when it released its annual ranking of the top 500 richest people in China and named the wife of JD.com founder and CEO Liu Qiangdong as the country’s youngest female billionaire.