Car manufacturer Wang Chuanfu is now the richest person in China. Wang founded the rechargeable battery and electric car maker BYD, the first Chinese company to launch the mass production of a plug-in hybrid electric car. His worth is assessed at $5.1 billion.
"(Wang) was not even in the top 100 last year," says Rupert Hoogewerf, of the Shanghai-based Hurun Report
, which publishes an annual list of China's 1,000 richest people.
Hoogewerf notes Wang, 43, has been at the forefront of a China's booming automotive industry. "The Chinese car industry has been growing very fast at over 30 percent for the first half of the year, bucking the trend of the rest of the world," says Hoogewerf.
A prominent American investor helped Wang's rise to his new status. "He had some help from Warren Buffett," said Hoogewerf. Buffett, a savvy American investor and perhaps the richest man in the world, targeted Wang's company for success.
"Buffett put his Midas touch on BYD, bought some stock, and Mr. Wang Chuanfu's stock prices have gone up almost 600 percent since then," says Hoogewerf.
At second place on the list of richest Chinese is a woman, Zhang Yin, 52. Zhang's company, Nine Dragons Paper, recycles paper into cardboard boxes. "She buys scrap paper from predominately the U.S., and also a little bit from Europe, and then she brings it to China, processes it, and sells it to Chinese exporters," said Hoogewerf.
A significant trait of the richest Chinese is their relative youth. Hoogewerf says the typical Chinese rich-lister is a 50-year-old man who made his wealth in property development.
"One of the things that strikes you immediately about that is that he's 15 years younger than his American counterpart," says Hoogewerf. Such a person, he says, will likely be even richer in the next decade.
Wealthiest Chinese (2009)
*source - Hurun Report annual Rich List