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Chinese Billionaires to Take on E-Commerce Giant Alibaba

Billionaire Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group in Dalian, China, on Sept. 11, 2013

Photograph by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Billionaire Wang Jianlin, chairman and president of Dalian Wanda Group in Dalian, China, on Sept. 11, 2013

It’s the battle of the billionaires, and it is about to be fought out on the Chinese Internet. Three of China’s richest businessmen are teaming up to form a new 5 billion yuan ($814 million) online shopping company to take on Alibaba Group, itself headed by China’s wealthiest man.

Real estate developer Dalian Wanda Group, with a 70 percent stake, will join with Internet games and social media company Tencent Holdings (0700:HK) and Baidu (BIDU), China’s largest Internet search company, each with a 15 percent share. The heads of the three companies announced the e-commerce venture at a meeting in Shenzhen earlier today.

Wang Jianlin, 59-year-old chairman of Wanda, is now China’s fourth-richest man. Baidu’s Robin Li, 45, is the third-richest, while Tencent’s Ma Huateng, 41, is second in wealth only to 49-year-old Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of Alibaba, Ma’s fortune is estimated to be $21.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His company, China’s biggest e-commerce player, plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange next month.

“It’s a very interesting battle to watch—three top rich people join hands to challenge another bigger billionaire,” said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center, a private research agency in Hangzhou, in an interview with Bloomberg News. China’s e-commerce market will hit $495 billion next year, tripling from 2011, according to McKinsey.

Roberts is Bloomberg Businessweek's Asia News Editor and China bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter @dtiffroberts.

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