For luxury companies banking on China’s ultra-rich, today’s news that China’s stock market turmoil has taken 161 Chinese tycoons off the billionaire list may come as a blow. It’s widely known that China’s economy has been slowing down and that the trade war with the U.S. hasn’t helped, but fortunes took a plunge last year when more than 25 percent of the country’s stock markets fell. The number of Chinese billionaires fell from 819 to 658 by January 31, 2019. That’s a significant drop in the spending power of the world’s richest.
Even so, the country is still home to more billionaires than the United States, which lays claim to 584, according to CNN via the wealth research firm Hurun Report. The U.S., meanwhile, is still home of the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos. It’s not all doom and gloom for China’s richest, however. The billionaires that took the biggest hit were Ma Huateng, CEO of internet company Tencent, who saw his fortune slip 19 percent to $38 billion and Wang Jialin of Dalian Wanda Group, once China’s richest man, who took a 37 percent fall in net worth to $17 billion, leaving them both…still multi-billionaires.
Some Chinese titans even profited during the slump. Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, saw his net worth increase more than 20 percent for a total of $39 billion. He is now China’s richest man. (Bezos is currently worth $147 billion, according to Hurun Report.) Ma profited from an increase in value of Alibaba thanks to its online payments affiliate, Ant Financial. New billionaires have also risen to the top despite the downturn in China’s economy, and one of them, incredibly, is the owner of a hot pot empire. The king of soup is now the richest restaurant owner in the world after his chain, Haidilao, went public in Hong Kong last year. His net worth is now $8.8 billion.
And Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube better watch their back: The short-video app phenomenon TikTok just made Zhang Yiming, the founder of internet startup ByteDance who started the new app, is now valued to be worth $75 billion. (Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth as of last year was $71 billion, according to Business Insider.) TikTok, founded in 2016, was downloaded more than all four of the above reigning social media giants, as of October of last year, according to CNN via Apptopia, a firm that tracks mobile apps. And by last November, the app had been downloaded by more than 800 million people worldwide.
The Hurun Report’s analysis also doesn’t account for the rebound of Chinese stocks seen this month—the Shanghai Composite index is up 14 percent since the beginning of February. Looks like China still has some very big spenders and may be on track to regain some of the billionaires that may have recently fallen off the list.