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As of Thursday, Nongfu Spring founder Zhong Shanshan had a paper net worth of $57.2 billion, topping Tencent’s Pony Ma and Alibaba founder Jack Ma to become China’s wealthiest man on paper.
Zhong Shanshan, a chairman of Nongfu Spring (HKG: 9633), a bottled water company, became the wealthiest person in China, Zhong’s net worth accounted for $58.7 billion that represents $2 billion more than Alibaba Group Holding’s (HKG: 9988) owner Jack Ma. He is also the second richest person in Asia, while the first spot still belongs to India’s Mukesh Ambani. Zhong is also the 17th wealthiest person in the world, ahead of Charles Koch and Phil Knight.
Called a “Lone Wolf” Zhong is famous for not turning to politics or business clubs. His asset’s worth has rocketed by $51.9 billion this year and is compared to those of Amazon.com Inc’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) Jeff Bezos and Tesla Inc’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) Elon Musk.
The initial public offering of bottled-water company Nongfu Spring Co. that is also Hong Kong’s most popular among retail investors, sent Zhong to China’s top three richest earlier this month and made Zhong the richest leader in China that is typically dominated by people who got rich from forming tech companies.
Tap water in China isn’t reported safe for drinking, and Nongfu Spring decided to use that situation by shoveling its way to a growing demand for bottled water. Market growth was also bolstered by the doubtfulness over water safety and Chinese consumers’ increased buying power.
Based in the eastern province of Zhejiang, Nongfu Spring was founded in 1996 by Zhong and uses the slogan “Nongfu Spring tastes a bit sweet.”
The company ranked at the top of China’s packaged drinking-water market last year, with approximately 21 percent market share. Its red-capped bottles are sold across China, from snack stalls to high-end hotels
Zhong Richest in China but Only for a Short Time
Even though Zhong went before Jack Ma as the wealthiest in China, this could only last for a short time. The owner of the tech giant might soon get back in the first place, which he’s held for most of the time during the last six years after Alibaba went public in the U.S. However, the Ant group plans to go public as well next month and it only can bolster his wealth, with his stake estimated at $28 billion if the company achieves the $250 billion valuation sources familiar with the situation have said it’s hoping.
Wednesday was very severe for U.S. tech stocks, which all plunged the most since earlier this month. Elon Musk’s wealth fell the most among all the other people on the Bloomberg ranking of the world’s 500 richest, followed by Bezos, whose net worth dropped by $7.1 billion. Musk is now worth $93.2 billion and Bezos $178 billion. Zhong added almost $4 billion Wednesday, more than anyone else in the index.
Let’s also mention that China and Hong Kong’s IPO market has been stable in spite of the coronavirus outbreak, with firms managing approximately $60 billion in 2020 until now. This represents double the amount reported in the same period last year.
The asset-rich IPO market saw at least 24 people become billionaires only regarding the new public listings on Chinese markets during the first six months of 2020. Last week saw another three enter the club after Shenzhen’s ChiNext started trading with no limits.
On the whole, China accounted for 158,000 millionaires only in 2019 that took the number to more than 4.4 million. That is the biggest number of millionaires after the U.S.