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China's Zhong Shanshan pips Indian tycoon Mukesh Ambani to become Asia's richest person

Kalila Sangster
·2-min read
--FILE--Zhong Shanshan, Chairman of Nongfu Spring Co., Ltd., delivers a speech at a press conference in Beijing, China, May 6, 2013. Shares of Chinese bottled water giant Nongfu Spring surged more than 85\% in their debut on the Hong Kong stock market. The stock opened at 39.80 Hong Kong dollars per share ($5.14), more than 85\% higher than its initial public offering price of 21.50 Hong Kong dollars ($2.77).
Asia has a new richest person thanks to his vaccine-making firm and bottled water company. Photo: PA

Chinese bottled-water tycoon Zhong Shanshan has become Asia’s richest person after seeing his fortune grow by $7bn (£5.1bn) in 2020.

Zhong Shanshan’s wealth amounts to $77.8bn, putting him ahead of Indian business magnate Mukesh Ambani and China's Alibaba (BABA) founder Jack Ma.

His fortune makes him the world's 11th richest person according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ambani is at number 12, with a net worth of $76.9bn.

Zhong’s vaccine-making firm Beijing Wantai Biological (603392.SS) went public in April this year listing its shares on the Chinese stock market.

He soon followed with his bottled water company Nongfu Spring (9633.HK), which was publicly listed in Hong Kong in July.

The move pushed him above Alibaba's founder Jack Ma who had previously been China and Asia's richest person.

Nongfu Spring has become one of Hong Kong's hottest listings with shares jumping 155% since their debut.

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Beijing Wantai Biological's shares are up more than 2,000% and is involved in developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Many of the world's richest people have seen their wealth skyrocket during the coronavirus pandemic.

Indian tycoon Ambani saw his wealth increase by $18.3bn to $76.9bn as he made deals to shift his conglomerate Reliance Industries (RIGD.IL) into a technology and e-commerce giant.

Earlier this year, Facebook said it was investing $5.7bn in Ambani’s discount Indian mobile internet company Reliance Jio.

The wealthiest person in the world, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, saw his fortune surge to $192bn during the pandemic as the popularity of online shopping soared as demand for delivery services increased in the face of COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing restrictions.

However, China’s Jack Ma saw his wealth fall from a high of $61.7bn in October down to $51.2bn as his Alibaba empire faces increased scrutiny from Chinese regulators.

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