China’s super-rich like Alibaba’s Jack Ma see billions of dollars wiped from their fortunes as the economy slumps

Jack Ma.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

  • China’s super-wealthy have seen their fortunes tumble by the most in 24 years, per the Hurun Rich List. 
  • Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s net worth dropped 29% to $25.7 billion, as tech bosses took a hit. 
  • China’s zero-COVID policy and the Ukraine war fallout are among factors that hit the economy and stocks.

Chinese super-rich billionaires like Alibaba’s Jack Ma have seen their wealth plunge the most in over 20 years as a combination of the impact of the Ukraine war and COVID-19 curbs slow down China’s economy. 

The total wealth of the most affluent people in China dropped 18% year-on-year to $3.5 trillion, according to the Hurun China Rich List 2022 published Tuesday. 

Only 1,305 people made the cut for the list, which ranks people with a minimum net worth of 5 billion yuan ($690 million) — a drop of 11%.

“This year has seen the biggest fall in the Hurun China Rich List of the last 24 years,” the list’s chief researcher Rupert Hoogewerf said in a statement. He noted the drop was driven mainly by losses for real estate and healthcare entrepreneurs.

“Part of the reason has been a global economy downturn, led by the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war, a sharp drop in tech prices and the generally slow post-COVID economic recovery, but also at the national level, the continued disruptions to the economy from localized COVID outbreaks,” the Hurun Report chairman said.

China’s strict zero-COVID policy of using lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines to curb the spread of the virus has hampered its economic growth. At the same time, a real estate crisis has added to recession fears.

More recently, President Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power and signs that Beijing’s focus has turned to ideology rather than the economy in its decision making have sparked pessimism about the economy.

Chinese stocks have taken a battering over the past year. The Shanghai Composite Index has lost 12.6%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has dropped 33%.

A crackdown by Beijing’s regulators has weighed on big Chinese tech stocks, many of which are listed in Hong Kong.

Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, was one of the tech bosses whose wealth took a hit, with a 29% drop in his net worth to $25.7 billion. His ranking on the rich list sank four places to ninth.

ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming’s wealth tumbled 28% to $35 billion, while Tencent founder Pony Ma’s fortune dropped 32% to $30.7 billion, according to Hurun’s research. 

Overall, the number of people with a net worth of $10 billion dropped by 29 to 56, while the number of dollar billionaires fell by 239 to 946.

But Hoogewerf said that despite the declines, the rich list is still 50% bigger than five years ago. Entrepreneurs in the industrial products and energy sectors were among those who saw their wealth grow in the past 12 months, he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider