Wahaha’s Zong Tops 2010 Forbes’ China Rich List With $8 Billion

Zong Qinghou, chairman of drinks maker Hangzhou Wahaha Group Co., topped Forbes Asia’s China rich list for 2010 with an estimated net worth of $8 billion.

Robin Li, co-founder of Internet search engine Baidu Inc., was ranked second with $7.2 billion. Wang Chuanfu, chairman of Warren Buffett-backed automaker BYD Co. and last year’s richest individual, fell to tenth place on the 2010 list with $4.25 billion, according to an e-mailed statement.

The number of billionaires in China rose more than 60 percent from last year to 128 as the nation’s economy recovered from the global financial crisis and more entrepreneurs listed their businesses. Former journalist Wu Yajun became the eighth richest Chinese on this year’s list and its wealthiest woman, after her Longfor Properties Co. raised HK$6.7 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering in November.

Sany Heavy Industry Co. Chairman Wengen Liang, with $5.9 billion, was ranked the third-richest individual on the Forbes list. Zhang Jindong, chairman of retailer Suning Appliance Co., was fourth with $5.7 billion and Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical Co. Chairman Li Li was fifth with $5.4 billion. Nine of the 128 people with more than $1 billion were younger than 40 and 11 of them are women, according to Forbes.

Wahaha’s Zong was also last month named China’s richest man by the Hurun Rich List, which estimated his wealth at $12 billion. Zong founded Wahaha, which means “laughing child” in Chinese, in 1987. He built the company, formerly the sales department in a school-run business in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, into a nationwide food and beverage maker with 30 billion yuan ($4.5 billion) in assets and 30,000 employees, according to the company’s website.

Hepalink’s Li and his family were ranked second on the Hurun list with an estimated $6 billion. The drugmaker began trading in Shenzhen in May after raising 5.9 billion yuan in its initial public offering.

--Zhang Dingmin. Editors: John Liu, Frank Longid

To contact the Bloomberg News staff for this story: Zhang Dingmin in Beijing at Dzhang14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at apapuc1@bloomberg.net

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