Last week, we saw what the endorsement of a financial heavyweight like Warren Buffett can do for a little-known Chinese company, with the stock of Dayang Trands skyrocketing 71% following Buffett's praises of the company's bespoke suits. In the automotive sector, today China Herald(via Bloomberg) points out that Buffett's investment in previously low-key Chinese battery and hybrid/electric car maker BYD has not only given the brand global visibility, it has made the company's head, Wang Chuanfu, a very rich man and putting him at the top of the Hurun Report's China Rich List -- beating China's longtime #1, Zhang Yin.
[Wang's] wealth jumped to $5.1 billion, exceeding Nine Dragons Paper Holdings Ltd. founder Zhang Yin’s $4.9 billion, according to an e-mailed statement from the Hurun Report today.
Wang’s worth leapt from $880 million last year after a unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to buy a 10 percent stake in BYD. The company’s F3 has also become China’s bestselling car this year, as BYD pushes beyond its traditional focus on making rechargeable batteries for mobile phones.
Buffett’s company announced a year ago it would buy 225 million new shares in BYD for HK$8 apiece. The shares, which have surged 387 percent this year, fell 7.5 percent to HK$61.85 in Hong Kong trading today.
The company has a market value of HK$140.7 billion ($18.2 billion), according to Bloomberg data. Wang, 43, owns 28 percent, according to the Hurun Report statement.
The number of known U.S. dollar billionaires in China has grown to 130 from 101 in 2008, according to the report. There may be a similar number of billionaires not yet found, added
, founder and compiler of the Hurun Rich List.
As Hurun Report founder Rupert Hoogewerf noted in a press release, Wang has benefitted greatly both from China's so-called "Green Revolution" as well as from Warren Buffett's "Midas Touch":
“Wang Chuanfu has made it to Number One in China on the back of the 30% growth of the Chinese car industry, the Warren Buffett Midas touch and the recovery of the Chinese economy,” says Rupert Hoogewerf, founder and compiler of the Hurun Rich List. “BYD is leading the foray into the next generation of cars using clean technology.”