Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s rally has put the wealth of its chairman, Ma Huateng, above that of Baidu Inc. counterpart Robin Li, making him China’s richest Internet executive, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The CHART OF THE DAY tracks Tencent, which operates the WeChat and QQ instant-messaging services, Baidu, Google Inc. and the Shanghai Composite and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes. Tencent has gained more than 75 percent since January 2012, as the Beijing-based rival fell 27 percent. Baidu was the better performer over five years as recently as Aug. 20, 2012, about a week after Shenzhen-based Tencent reported a 32 percent profit increase in the second quarter of the year, Bloomberg data show.
Ma, 41, was China’s third-richest man with a net worth of $7.2 billion as of March 15, compared with $6.3 billion for Li, who was the fifth richest, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows. Shanghai-based Hurun Report ranked Li China’s third-richest man and Ma the seventh-richest in September. Ma was named to China’s National People’s Congress on Feb. 27, the nation’s legislature, three weeks after Baidu’s co-founder was appointed to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body.
Tencent has a “more solid and diversified revenue model, whereas Baidu is mostly focusing on online advertising,” said Kevin Tam, an analyst at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International (H.K.) Ltd. Tencent’s challenges include potential data fees from telecom operators on WeChat, which could be mitigated by Ma’s increased “political status,” said Tam. Tencent had a consensus rating of 4.25 out of 5 while Baidu was rated 3.97, according to analyst recommendations compiled by Bloomberg.
About half of Tencent’s revenue was from online games, based on its most-recent income report, with a fifth from community products such as WeChat. Baidu operates China’s most-used search engine. Its shares surged almost fourfold in the 19-months from January 2010, when Mountain View, California-based Google said it would stop censoring its China website and shifted searches to an unfiltered site in Hong Kong.
“The NPC might be more prestigious than the CPPCC because of its legislative status,” said Doug Young, author of the book “The Party Line: How the Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China.” “But the NPC is a rubber stamp.”
— With assistance by Penny Peng, and Michael Wei