Tencent CEO Pony Ma Dethrones Jack Ma as China’s Richest Man

Ma Huateng (or Pony Ma), the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tencent Holdings has surpassed Alibaba Group’s Jack Ma to become the country’s wealthiest man, according to Forbes estimates. As of Monday, Ma Huateng’s wealth reached $36.2 billion. That compares to China’s No.2 billionaire Jack Ma, whose fortune stood at around $35.6 billion.

It marks the first time for Tencent’s Chief to become China’s top billionaire. He is also the wealthiest person in Asia for the moment.

Ma Huateng’s wealth level was mainly boosted by a strong rally of Tencent’s stock price on Monday, as the financial markets are widely bullish of the company’s earnings, which is about to be released next week. The rally has added nearly $1 billion to Ma’s personal net worth, he currently owns 7.7 percent stake in Tencent.

In recent years, Tencent’s super popular social networking platform WeChat has become central to the business strategy of luxury brands that hope to profit from the Chinese market. It offers a great marketing and branding space for luxury players to closely interact with Chinese consumers. Now, it has even become a place where brands can directly sell products thanks to a slew of social e-commerce features including WeChat Pay and mini programs.

Aside from WeChat, Tencent offers a wide array of products and services ranging from gaming to the payment app WeChat Pay. The company is seeking global expansion to promote these products to non-Chinese markets.

Jack Ma is at the helm of China’s top e-commerce company Alibaba Group. He has a 7.8-percent stake in Alibaba and owns a nearly 50-percent stake in Alipay, which is owned by Alibaba’s affiliate group Ant Financial.

Under his leadership, the company has made progress in the luxury and fashion fields over the past several years. Of late, Alibaba has secured a partnership with Kering Group to jointly combat the counterfeiting issues on its key marketplaces Taobao and Tmall. The group has also stepped up its luxury offerings through launching the Luxury Pavilion to sell luxury goods exclusively to rich Chinese consumers.

Jack Ma actually just took the designation of “China’s richest man” in May this year from Dalian Wanda’s Wang Jianlin. The previous top billionaire, Wang, has recently run into trouble as China’s government continued to tighten its scrutiny of overseas investment.

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