Prop­erty ty­coon takes top spot on China’s rich list

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT | INTERNATIONAL - Kelvin Chan

PROP­ERTY ty­coon Xu Ji­ayin has vaulted to the top of a Chi­nese rich list af­ter his wealth quadru­pled, knock­ing Wang Jian­lin off his long-time po­si­tion at num­ber one.

The Hu­run Re­port, the best known list of China’s wealth­i­est peo­ple, es­ti­mated that wealth held by Xu, founder of de­vel­oper Ever­grande, surged to $43 bil­lion (R584.22bn), mov­ing him up nine places from last year. Wang, head of real es­tate and leisure con­glom­er­ate Dalian Wanda Group, fell from first to fifth place as his wealth shrank 28 per­cent to $23bn, the re­port said. He had held the top spot since 2013.

The change re­flects Bei­jing’s ef­forts to tighten up on com­pa­nies pil­ing up debt to make mar­quee in­vest­ments abroad and in­stead en­cour­age en­trepreneurs to fo­cus on do­mes­tic growth.

Un­der Wang’s lead­er­ship, Dalian Wanda started as a real es­tate de­vel­oper and then branched out by ac­quir­ing a Hol­ly­wood stu­dio, US cin­ema chains, Spanish soc­cer teams and a Bri­tish yacht maker.

But his global am­bi­tions were thwarted as Bei­jing tight­ened up con­trols on out­bound in­vest­ment, both to rein in ex­ces­sive spend­ing on for­eign en­ter­tain­ment and sports as­sets not seen as use­ful for de­vel­op­ing China’s econ­omy and to avoid run­ning down the coun­try’s for­eign ex­change re­serves.

Ear­lier this year, Wanda sold off most of its Chi­nese theme parks and ho­tels to ri­vals, an abrupt turn­around from ear­lier plans to com­pete with Walt Dis­ney.

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