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Energy tycoon China's richest
Last Updated: 2015-02-04 08:45 | Global Times
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The head of a Chinese solar energy giant has dethroned Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun as the country's richest person, and bested real estate and Internet tycoons, a report released on Tuesday by the Hurun Research Institute showed.

Li Hejun, the founder and chairman of the Hanergy Holding Group, saw his wealth nearly triple from a year ago with a fortune of 160 billion yuan ($26 billion), slightly higher than Wang Jianlin, the founder of Wanda Group, and Jack Ma, the Chairman of Alibaba, the Hurun Global Rich List 2015 said, which ended the wealth calculations on January 17, 2015.

Li's global ranking rose to 28th, up 108 notches from last year. Li holds most of the shares in the group's Hong Kong-listed subsidiary Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, which is worth about 80 billion yuan, and some unlisted industries including hydropower and solar energy, the report said.

Jack Ma was also overtaken by property baron Wang, whose net worth was estimated at 155 billion yuan. Jack Ma dropped to third with 150 billion yuan.

Jack Ma topped Hurun's China rich list in late September last year, shortly after Alibaba's successful IPO at the New York Stock Exchange that raised nearly $22 billion. Wang was listed second.

Another e-commerce tycoon, Liu Qiangdong, the founder of JD.com, was the biggest gainer, his wealth rising four-fold to 41 billion yuan from last year.

Also rising fast was Lei Jun, the founder of smartphone maker Xiaomi, whose fortune tripled from last year to 85 billion yuan, 74th in the world.

The rest in the top 10 include the top executives of beverage producer Wahaha, search engine Baidu, and Internet service provider Tencent.

"The international status of Chinese enterprises is rising, and the tech industry has been leading the way again for new billionaires," Rupert Hoogewerf, the founder and chief researcher of the institute, whose Chinese name is Hu Run, said.

"I'm surprised to see Li's rise," Cao Yin, the director of the consultancy firm Martec Group, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Unlike Wang, who builds his wealth on real estate across the nation, and Jack Ma, whose success revolves around e-commerce, Li's business relies on thin film photovoltaic modules, and the company markets its own products, which is rare in today's environment in China, Cao said.

Other analysts attributed Li's rise to his company's success in the stock market rather than to the new energy products themselves.

"Associating his wealth with the industry he is in seems far-fetched. There are a lot of entrepreneurs in the business and they are not nearly as successful as Li, so I think Li's wealth comes from the stock market," Ma Hong, an analyst with the Shanghai-based CBI Research Center, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

News portal qq.com reported on Tuesday that the price of Hanergy shares climbed by 165 percent from Janary 10, 2014 to the end of last year.

Shares of the listed subsidiary remained flat on Tuesday after its share price rose by 1.66 percent Monday to HK$3.67 ($0.47).

Li started his business in the 1990s, when local governments encouraged private investment in the hydropower industry to alleviate power shortages. In 2002, he invested in the Jin'anqiao hydropower plant in Southweast China's Yunnan Province. In 2009, Li entered into the photovoltaic business after the financial crisis, which helped him make a fortune.

However, Li said at a press conference on Monday "not to take it seriously," after rumors said he would be named the new richest man in China.

"The aim of making money is to do something really great instead of becoming the richest man, while the aim of doing great things is to help more people," he said.

The report also said China and the US dominate the global rich list with 430 and 537 billionaires, respectively. China has 72 new faces on the list thanks to the stock market boom, followed by the US with 56. India added 27 people to break into top three for the first time, replacing Russia.

Real estate is still the main source of fortunes in China, which has generated the most number of billionaires, followed by manufacturing and technology, Hurun said.

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