Wang Reclaims Top Spot Among Asia's Rich as Property Unit Jumps

  • Wanda Commercial surges 18 percent, still lags 2014 IPO price
  • Jump gives Wang decisive lead over billionaires Li and Ma

Wang Jianlin.

Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

Wang Jianlin has become the richest person in Asia. Again.

The chairman and founder of Dalian Wanda Group Co. added $1.6 billion to his fortune on Thursday after shares in its publicly traded property unit jumped 18 percent. The spike, which came after Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co. said its parent group may privatize the company, increased Wang’s net worth to $31.5 billion, putting him $1.8 billion ahead of Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma began the month as Asia’s No. 1 billionaire and ended it as the third richest with $29.2 billion.

Being Asia’s richest person has been a volatile position lately with Wang, Li and Ma swapping the lead six times in the past month.

Thursday’s increase helped Wang claw back some of the $6.6 billion that had been wiped from his fortune in 2016 amid a slowing Chinese economy. 

Wang has announced more than $25 billion of investments and acquisitions in 2016, including U.S. film company Legendary Entertainment and a $10 billion industrial park in northern India.

Ma may get his shot at No. 1 again next month as Alibaba’s finance affiliate plans to complete its second round of fundraising and is seeking a valuation of about $60 billion, according to a March 2016 Bloomberg News report. That’s up from the $43 billion reported in an August 2015 Alibaba presentation. Ma owns 6.3 percent of Alibaba and 41 percent of the affiliate, Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co.

The world’s 400 richest people have a combined $4 trillion, 1 percent more than they had on Jan. 1. Wang remains $53.6 billion short of Bill Gates, the richest man on the planet, with $85 billion, according to the Index.

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