Jack Ma is no longer China’s richest person after his confrontation with the state’s financial regulators

Jack Ma
Jack Ma Shu Zhang/Reuters
  • Billionaire Jack Ma is no longer China’s richest person after his empire came under regulatory scrutiny.
  • He dropped to fourth place “after China’s regulators reined in Ant Group and Alibaba on anti-trust issues,” the Hurun Global Rich List said.
  • Bottled-water maker Zhong Shanshan nabbed the number one spot for the first time with a wealth of $US85 ($109) billion.
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Business magnate Jack Ma has lost the title of China’s richest person, according to a list published Tuesday, as his business empire came under regulatory scrutiny.

Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba and Ant Group, held the top spot on China’s Hurun Global Rich List in 2019 and 2020, but has fallen to fourth place after bottled-water maker Zhong Shanshan, Tencent’s Pony Ma Huateng, and e-commerce company Pinduoduo CEO Colin Huang Zheng.

Ma’s rank dropped for the first time in three years “after China’s regulators reined in Ant Group and Alibaba on anti-trust issues,” a report accompanying the list said.

Ma’s confrontation with state regulators peaked when he criticized China’s financial regulatory system on October 24, as Ant Group was gearing up for an IPO.

He said lawmakers enforcing global financial rules were part of “an old people’s club” and existing rules aren’t well-suited to Chinese tech innovation.

Ant’s $US34 ($44) billion IPO, the largest in history, was suspended after regulators found “major issues” that could not qualify it for a listing.

Subsequently, the state launched an anti-monopoly investigation into Alibaba and introduced a series of new regulations for the fintech sector. 

Ma, whose personal wealth stands at $US55 ($71) billion, disappeared from public view for almost three months after his comments about global financial rules. He resurfaced in a quick 50-second video clip on January 20, addressing 100 rural teachers across China. 

Zhong, China’s current richest person, nabbed the top spot for the first time with a wealth of $US550 ($706) billion yuan ($US85 ($109) billion), owing to the share performance of his bottled-water company and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which he also controls, according to Reuters.

Zhang Yiming, the 38-year-old founder of TikTok parent company ByteDance, broke into the top 5 with a personal wealth of around $US54 ($69) billion after the app surged in popularity.