Udayavni Special

School dropout from China dethrones Mukesh Ambani as Asia’s richest person


Team Udayavani, Dec 31, 2020, 10:39 AM IST

New Delhi: Zhong Shanshan, vaccine magnate and founder of China’s largest bottled water company Nongfu Spring has replaced Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani to become Asia’s richest person.

The 66-year-old, also known as ‘Lone Wolf’ was barely known outside of China until this year. Having dropped out of primary school, during the chaos of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, Zhong worked as a construction worker, a newspaper reporter, drugmaker and beverage sales agent before setting up his own business.

According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Zhong is currently the 11th richest person in the world after his net worth soared to $77.8 billion from $70.9 billion this year. It’s one of the fastest accumulations of wealth in history.

Zhong’s fortunes surged after he took vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. public in April 2020, then months later Nongfu Spring Co., a maker of bottled water, became one of Hong Kong’s hottest listings. Since being listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, in September this year, Nongfu shares surged around 155 per cent

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.

Ambani, 63, who earlier this year rose to the fourth spot on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, is pushed to the 12th slot following a correction in the share prices of Reliance as he comes under pressure to deliver on the digital transformation he’s promised. Reliance share prices have dropped nearly 16 percent from its all-time high of Rs 2,369.35 after the announcement of its deal to buy retail and wholesale assets of Kishore Biyani-controlled Future group.

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