Nearly 500 people became billionaires during pandemic year, says Forbes

Nearly 500 people became billionaires during pandemic year, says Forbes
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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 7): The number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual list of the world’s wealthiest soared to an unprecedented 2,755 — 660 more than a year ago.

In its list earlier this year, Forbes said a record high 493 were new to the list — roughly one every 17 hours, including 210 from China and Hong Kong.

It said another 250 who had fallen off in the past came roaring back, while a staggering 86% were richer than a year ago.

Meanwhile, the wealth of China’s richest Internet billionaires were still shrinking, with four of the country’s best-known tycoons — Colin Huang, Jack Ma, Pony Ma and Wang Xing — losing more than US$73 billion (about RM309.05 billion) from their combined net worth since April.

Forbes last week said the tycoons face heightened risk from China’s regulators.

Ride-sharing giant DiDi Global announced last Friday (Dec 3) that it would delist from the New York Stock Exchange — which is widely reported to have come at the behest of government departments such as the Cyberspace Administration of China — and could be a harbinger of similar delistings in the future.

The magazine said if they opt to maintain their US listings, there could be changes to their long-used ownership structure known as a variable interest entity, creating additional risks for shareholders.

It said the added pressure of further scrutiny is clouding outlooks.

Citing analysts, Forbes said companies from e-commerce giant Alibaba to food-delivery platform Meituan are battling a protracted growth slowdown in the Chinese economy, and their business outlook is likely to remain downbeat until at least early next year.

The biggest wealth wipeout, however, went to Pinduoduo’s Colin Huang. The tycoon lost almost US$35 billion in the eight months since April as the Nasdaq-listed shares in his discount e-commerce platform more than halved.

Forbes' Real Time Billionaires rankings track the daily ups and downs of the world’s richest people.

The wealth-tracking platform provides ongoing updates on the net worth and ranking of each individual confirmed by Forbes to be a billionaire.

The value of individuals’ public holdings are updated every five minutes when respective stock markets are open (there is a 15-minute delay for stock prices).

Individuals whose fortunes are significantly tied to private companies will have their net worth updated once a day.