Electronics entrepreneur tops China's rich list

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The Independent Online

Communist China's economic reforms have produced the country's first billionaires - three of them - led by an electrical appliances entrepreneur with a fortune of $1.3bn.

Communist China's economic reforms have produced the country's first billionaires - three of them - led by an electrical appliances entrepreneur with a fortune of $1.3bn.

Huang Guangyu was named China's richest man yesterday in a survey by Euromoney China magazine after seeing a six-fold increase in his wealth from $215m last year.

Mr Guangyu, 35, a native of China's Guangdong province, started out with a Beijing market stall which became the basis of a retailing and property empire, Gome Electrical Appliances, now quoted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

After leaving home with a bag of cheap plastic electrical appliances, Mr Guangyu built a chain of 130 stores with sales of $2bn.

Two other mainland Chinese businessmen have reached billionaire status, according to the magazine: Chen Tianqiao, 31, the founder of Shanda Interactive Entertainment, who is calculated to be worth $1.05bn, and Larry Yung, the 62-year-old chairman of Citic Pacific, an industrial conglomerate of the old school, worth $1bn.

Mr Tianqiao started out with a 500,000 renminbi loan to found Shanda, now a leading computer games publisher catering for China's vast teenage population.

Roger Hoogewerf, who compiled the list of China's richest people, told the Bloomberg news agency: "The fact that China has produced three billionaires is a milestone in the nation's development."

In the first half of this year the Chinese economy grew 9.7 per cent ,which was the fastest rate among the world's leading 20 economies. The rapid expansion has led to the creation of vast wealth for a few business leaders in the past decade. The country's 10 richest people have a combined wealth of $7.3bn, according to the new list, although analysts believe China is also producing a large and expanding middle class, crucial to long-term economic growth.

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