Alibaba founder Jack Ma has been dethroned as China’s richest man after disappearing from the public eye late last year, according to multiple media reports in China.
The billionaire and Ant Group founder lost the title after his empire was placed under heavy scrutiny by Chinese authorities following challenges to fintech regulators he made in a speech in October.
Once holding the top spot on the Hurun Global Rich List in 2020 and 2019, Ma has dropped back to fourth place, tailing bottled water maker Nongfu Spring’s Zhong Shanshan, Tencent Holding’s Pony Ma and e-commerce Pinduoduo’s Collin Huang.
Snatching first place with a net worth of $95bn is Shanshan who owns Nongfu Spring alongside vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise.
Tencent Holding’s Ma enjoyed a 70 per cent increase in wealth, taking his fortune to $74.16bn.
Meanwhile, TikTok founder Zhang Yiming made it into the top five Chinese billionaires, with an estimated wealth of $54bn.
Although the Alibaba billionaire saw his net value grow 22 per cent to around $55.6b, he could not keep up with his peers while under regulatory scrutiny.
Ant Group’s $37bn IPO was suspended days before its public listing, following his criticism of China’s regulatory system.
Since then, Chinese regulators “reined in” Ant Group and Alibaba on “anti-trust issues” the Hurun report said.
China’s market regulator launched an official anti-trust probe into Alibaba in December, while Ant Group was asked to redesign some of its businesses so they can be regulated like ‘traditional financial’ firms.