By Li Hongmei
Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, chairman of Cheung Kong Holdings, was named the richest man of Chinese descent for the 15th consecutive year by Forbes this year. The magazine's figures show that the wealth of the billionaires on its list is growing faster than their number and entrepreneurs from mainland China again amounted for almost half.
Zong Qinghou, chairman and CEO of Hangzhou Wahaha Group, was 9th places this year while Baidu CEO Robin Li and Sany Group chairman and founder Liang Wengen both fell out of the top ten.
The net worth of these billionaires' assets combined increased masively from US$162.7 billion to US$718.4 billion over the past year. The number of people with a net worth in excess of US$1 billion also swelled from 47 to 245. The figures suggest that the super-rich are accumulating wealth at an ever-increasing rate.
The super-rich are getting richer, but also older. Six of the top ten richest billionaires are now in their 80s. Four of them are from Hong Kong and one each from the Philippines and Malaysia. Finding a successor to take over their empire is a pressing concern for several of them.
The property development sector has produced the highest proportion of billionaires of Chinese descent, with 21%. The second and third richest on the list - Hong Kong's Lee Shau-kee, chairman of Henderson Land Development Company, and the brothers Thomas and Raymond Kwok, co-chairman and managing director of Sun Hung Kai Properties - are all in property.
Property and manufacturing produced most of the billionaires in mainland China, but the richest of them remains Zong Qinghou, founder of food and beverage maker Wahaha Group, according to Forbes.
The manufacturing sector has created the second highest proportion of billionaires on the list with 16%, followed by conglomerates with 13%, technology with 9%, food and beverages with 7% and medical care with 5%.