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Water tycoon now China's wealthiest person

Beijing

A BOTTLED-WATER and vaccine tycoon has become China's wealthiest person in a day also marked by massive losses among the world's tech elite.

Zhong Shanshan's net worth reached US$58.7 billion on Wednesday, US$2 billion more than Jack Ma's, showed the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He is now Asia's second-richest person, behind India's Mukesh Ambani, and is the 17th wealthiest in the world, ahead of Charles Koch and Phil Knight.

Nicknamed "Lone Wolf" for his eschewing of politics and clubby business groups, Mr Zhong's fortune has jumped US$51.9 billion in 2020, more than anyone else in the world except Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and Tesla chief Elon Musk.

Both of them suffered heavy declines on Wednesday as tech stocks stumbled and Tesla plunged after its "Battery Day" event fell short of expectations. Mr Musk's fortune dropped by almost US$10 billion.

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The initial public offering (IPO) of bottled-water company Nongfu Spring - Hong Kong's most popular among retail investors - propelled Mr Zhong to China's top three richest earlier this month. That came after the April listing of vaccine-maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise pushed his net worth to US$20 billion by early August.

Mr Zhong now leads a wealth ranking in China that is typically dominated by people who made their fortunes from tech companies.

Tech tycoon Jack Ma might soon regain the top spot, which he has held for most of the past six years after Alibaba went public in the US Ant Group's IPO. BLOOMBERG

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