Wang reclaims top spot among Asia's rich as property unit jumps

[BEIJING] Wang Jianlin has become the richest person in Asia. Again.

The chairman and founder of Dalian Wanda Group Co. added US$1.6 billion to his fortune on Thursday after shares in its publicly traded property unit jumped 18 per cent.

The spike, which came after Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co said its parent group may privatize the company, increased Mr Wang's net worth to US$31.5 billion, putting him US$1.8 billion ahead of Hong Kong's Li Ka-shing, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Chairman Jack Ma began the month as Asia's No. 1 billionaire and ended it as the third richest with US$29.2 billion.

Being Asia's richest person has been a volatile position lately with Mr Wang, Mr Li and Mr Ma swapping the lead six times in the past month.

Thursday's increase helped Mr Wang claw back some of the US$6.6 billion that had been wiped from his fortune in 2016 amid a slowing Chinese economy.

Mr Wang has announced more than US$25 billion of investments and acquisitions in 2016, including US film company Legendary Entertainment and a US$10 billion industrial park in northern India.

Mr Ma may get his shot at No 1 again next month as Alibaba's finance affiliate plans to complete its second round of fundraising and is seeking a valuation of about US$60 billion, according to a March 2016 Bloomberg News report.

That's up from the US$43 billion reported in an August 2015 Alibaba presentation.

Mr Ma owns 6.3 per cent of Alibaba and 41 per cent of the affiliate, Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co.

The world's 400 richest people have a combined US$4 trillion, 1 per cent more than they had on Jan 1.

Mr Wang remains US$53.6 billion short of Bill Gates, the richest man on the planet, with US$85 billion, according to the Index.


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