26-year-old woman China’s richest person

Beijing, October 8:

A 26-year-old woman worth $16.2 billion is mainland China’s richest person, the business magazine Forbes reported today, topping a list of tycoons whose wealth has soared amid a boom in stock and property prices.

The fortune of Yang Huiyan — also Asia’s richest woman — is based on shares in Country Garden Holdings Ltd, a real estate developer founded by her father, Forbes reported. The company’s Hong Ko-ng stock market debut made billionaires of Yang and four other people.

In second place was another developer, Hui Wing Mau, with a net worth of $7.3 billion. Number 3 was Guo Guangchang, chairman of a manufacturing, retailing and real estate conglomerate, with a fortune of $4.85 billion.

Their rise reflects a sh-arp rise in Chinese real estate prices over the past year despite government efforts to restrain a boom that it worries could ignite a debt crisis or leave country’s poor majority without affordable housing.

Yang also represents an unusual case of second-generation wealth in China, most of whose richest people are self-made entrepreneurs still in their 30s and 40s.

Her net worth was more than seven times that of last year’s richest mainland Chinese person, appliance retailer Huang Guangyu, who was worth $2.3 billion. Huang dropped to Number 10 on this year’s list, even though his net worth rose by more than 50 per cent to $3.6 billion.

Forbes reported that it compiled its list by looking at shareholdings in public companies and estimating what holdings in private entities would be worth if public.

The list excludes Hong Kong, home to some the region’s richest business people, such as tycoon Li Ka-shing. The China list’s rankings change sharply from year to year, reflecting the rapid evolution of the booming economy, which expanded by 11.9 per cent in the most recent quarter.

This year, there were 20 new names among the list’s top 40 richest people, Forbes reported. Yang, who graduated from Ohio State University, was one of 12 real estate developers among the top 40.

All 40 were billionaires, up from only 15 last year. The combined net worth of the top 40 also rose sharply.