Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani is no longer Asia’s richest person. The Indian billionaire is replaced by Zhong Shanshan, vaccine magnate and founder of China’s largest bottled water company Nongfu Spring.
Zhong’s net worth has soared $70.9 billion this year to $77.8 billion, making him the 11th richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Furthermore, it is one of the fastest accumulations of wealth in history.
Popularly known as ‘Lone Wolf’, Zhong, 66, has worked as a construction worker, a newspaper reporter, drugmaker and beverage sales agent before starting his own business. Hangzhou-born Zhong dropped out of primary school during the chaos of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. In April 2020, Zhong-controlled Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy went public on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. His controlling stake in the company saw his overall fortunes surge as much as $20 billion by August.
Further, Nongfu Spring shares became an instant hit in September this year when they were listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Nongfu shares have soared around 155 per cent since their debut. Nongfu Spring’s red-capped bottles are sold across China from small shops to high-end hotels. The company also sells teas, juices and flavoured vitamin drinks.
It is worth mentioning here that the stock market listing of the bottled water company and a majority stake in a vaccine maker have helped boost his wealth. Earlier, the pharma firm had said it has partnered with two universities to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. Citigroup Inc. analysts said Nongfu has solidified its market dominance and enjoys ample cash flow, Bloomberg mentioned.
Ambani, 63, who earlier this year rose to the fourth spot on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, is pushed to the 12th slot. His current net worth is $76.9 billion (around Rs 5.63 lakh crore), down from nearly $90 billion (around Rs 6.62 lakh crore) earlier this year.
The fall in the oil-to-telecom conglomerate owner’s net worth is due to the correction in RIL stocks, which have dropped nearly 16 per cent from its all-time high of Rs 2,369.35 touched after the announcement of its deal to buy retail and wholesale assets of Kishore Biyani-controlled Future group. On Wednesday, shares of RIL closed at Rs 1,995.50. In the last two months, RIL shares have seen profit booking after the US-based online retail titan Amazon challenged its deal with Future group. Amazon says its 2019 deal in which it pumped in around $200 million into Future Coupons, a Future Group company, had clauses saying the Biyani-led group could not sell its retail assets to anyone on a “restricted persons” list, which included Reliance.
As per Motilal Oswal’s annual wealth creation study, RIL has created a wealth of Rs 6.3 lakh crore between 1995-2020. In the past 25 years (from March 1995-2020), RIL has posted a cumulative net profit of Rs 3.78 lakh crore.