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Alibaba’s Jack Ma becomes China’s richest tycoon

Sep 23, 2014

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has become China's richest person with a net worth of $25 billion, according to a new survey.

Ma, who founded the Chinese e-commerce giant from his small apartment, reached the top of the wealth list by Hurun Report for first the first time. He beat out Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin, who has $24.2 billion, and Li Jejun of Hanergy, a renewable energy company, with $20.8 billion.

The 2014 Hurun Rich List, which has been published for the last 16 years, has a record 354 "dollar billionaires" in China, which is up 13% from last year. Ten years ago, there were just three billionaires.

The growth in the number of China's mega-rich highlights the country's economic transformation and its concentration of huge wealth within a small elite. Total wealth of the over 300 members on the list adds up to $1.4 trillion, or the equivalent of 15% of China's gross national product, according to the report.

"It has been an amazing year for China’s best tycoons despite the jitters about the Chinese economy," Hurun said in its report.

Many of those who led the list hail from companies in online retailing and other technology. Five of the top 10 made money from the IT industry. Three tycoons dropped out in 2014's list including some in real estate, which has been under significant pressure because of overbuilding.

Jack Ma earned $18 billion on Friday after Alibaba's (baba) big initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, during which its shares rose 38%. The company's IPO places a market value of $214 billion on Alibaba, exceeding giants like Facebook (fb), Intel (intc) and Amazon.com (amzn).

The start to trading also saw Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, who owns a large stake in Alibaba, become the richest man in Japan.

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