The untold riches unveiled by the New York Stock Exchange listing of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. have made founder and chairman Jack Ma Yun Asia’s richest man.
Ma, 50, dethrones “Superman” Li Ka-shing, who has held the top spot since April 5, 2012, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows.
“I am nothing but happy when young people from China do well,” Li, 86, said through his spokeswoman in Hong Kong. An Alibaba spokesman declined to comment.
Ma, a former teacher of English who started the Hangzhou, Zhejiang province-based company in his apartment in 1999, has added US$25 billion to his net worth this year.
Alibaba’s shares have surged 54 percent since the initial public offering in September.
At US$28.6 billion, Ma’s fortune has now edged past Li’s net worth of US$28.3 billion.
“The billionaires in China are growing their wealth faster because China’s economy is still developing, with plenty of room for growth,” Francis Ying, an analyst at Yuanta Research, told Bloomberg.
“Hong Kong is already a mature market.”
More than half of Ma’s wealth comes from his 6.3 percent stake in Alibaba, valued at US$16.3 billion. He also controls almost half of the closely held finance unit, which owns Alipay, an online payment service.
Li’s fortune has declined US$1.9 billion this year. While shares of his flagship developer, Cheung Kong (Holdings) (000001.HK) have gained, some of his other investments, including Canada-based Husky Energy Inc., have lost value.
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