Jack Ma Loses Title As China’s Richest Man, Slips to 4th Spot

March 5, 2021 Updated: March 5, 2021

Jack Ma, the founder of China’s Alibaba and Ant Group, has received a lot of attention in recent months, after his empire came under regulatory scrutiny. Ma no longer holds the top spot for China’s richest man in 2021 in the Hurun Global Rich List.

In addition, no real estate developers ranked among China’s top ten list this year, which has never happened before since the Hurun Global Rich List was created.

Hurun lists the world’s richest individuals whose assets exceed $1 billion.

Jack Ma Tumbles to 4th Spot

Ma and his family held the top spot for China’s richest on the Hurun Global Rich List in 2019 and 2020, but now slipped to fourth place this year behind bottled water maker Nongfu Spring’s Zhong Shanshan, Tencent Holding’s founder Pony Ma, and e-commerce platform Pinduoduo’s Collin Huang, the latest list showed.

The Hurun report shows that Jack Ma’s wealth increased by 22 percent over a year ago, reaching $55.64 billion.

Ma’s ranking fell after “China’s regulators reined in Ant Group and Alibaba on anti-trust issues,” the report said.

Ma was targeted by the Chinese authorities after he criticized China’s regulatory system in an Oct. 24 speech last year. This led to the suspension of his Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO just days before the fintech giant’s public listing. The market regulator launched an official antitrust probe into Alibaba in December.

Soon after, Ma vanished from public view. His three-month disappearance has since caused intense speculation about his whereabouts. He re-emerged in January with a 50-second video appearance.

Nongfu Spring’s 67-year-old Zhong Shanshan became the new face on the global rich list. The company offers drinking water products from 10 natural water sources across China.

With a net worth of $85 billion, Zhong became China’s richest man and the first Chinese entrepreneur to enter the world’s top ten, replacing India’s Mukesh Ambani as Asia’s richest person.

Zhong also founded another listed company, vaccine manufacturer Wantai BioPharm, with a current market value of more than $10 billion. This makes him one of the few entrepreneurs in the world who have founded more than one company worth over $10 billion.

Pony Ma ranks as China’s second richest man with a net worth of $74.19 billion.

Pinduoduo’s Collin Huang and Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok owner ByteDance, both tripled their wealth last year. Huang ranks third with a net worth of $69.55 billion. Zhang takes the fifth spot with a net worth of $54.09 billion. Huang and Zhang are considered the most competitive candidates for China’s richest person in the future.

No Developers on the Top Ten List

Among China’s wealthiest entrepreneurs who made it in this year’s list, 36 percent are from emerging industries, an increase of 4 percentage points year-on-year; 64 percent are from traditional industries, according to the Hurun report. Of the emerging industries, advanced manufacturing ranked first, followed by health, media, and entertainment.

It is the first time that no real estate entrepreneurs entered China’s top ten since Hurun Global Rich List has been created. Li Ka-shing and Xu Jiayin, the two real estate tycoons who were among the top five in 2020, fell out of the top ten this year. With a net worth of $31.5 billion, Xu’s ranking is 16th in 2021.

The top five cities in China with the largest number of billionaires are Beijing (145), Shanghai (113), Shenzhen (105), Hong Kong (82), and Hangzhou (66). The city of Suzhou entered the top ten for the first time this year.

Chinese and American Billionaires Made Half of the List

According to Hurun Global Rich List 2021, the world added 412 billionaires to take the total to 3,228, from 2,402 companies and 68 countries. The total wealth of these 3,228 billionaires rose 32 percent, reaching $14.7 trillion.

Chinese and American billionaires account for more than half of the total number, with 1,058 from China, an increase of 259 from last year; and 696 from the United States, an increase of 70 year-on-year. India ranked third with 177 billionaires, followed by Germany, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.

Tesla’s Elon Musk added a massive $151 billion during the year to become the world’s richest man for the first time, with a net worth of $197 billion. Musk, 49, is the youngest person to become the richest in the world.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos ranked second, with a net worth of $189 billion.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett were in the top 6 of the global list.

From the perspective of industry analysis, the health and real estate industries have become the main sources of wealth for billionaire entrepreneurs around the world, followed by consumer goods, investment, retail, food and beverage.

Reuters contributed to this report.