Founder of bottled water giant Nongfu Spring becomes China’s richest man

Wealth

Zhong Shanshan, the chairman of Nongfu Spring Company, attends the Nongfu Spring new product launch conference on February 1, 2015 in Baishan, Jilin Province of China.

Jiang Xin | VCG | Getty Images

BEIJING — Steady gains in the public offerings of two Chinese stocks this year have vaulted their controlling stakeholder to the top of China’s rich list.

As of Thursday, Nongfu Spring founder Zhong Shanshan had a paper net worth of $57.2 billion, topping Tencent’s Pony Ma and Alibaba founder Jack Ma, whose respective holdings were worth $56.3 billion and $50.4 billion, according to Forbes.

The paper gains also mean China’s wealthiest man now ranks 17th in the world, just below Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, according to Forbes’ real-time billionaire list.

Zhong owns 84.4% of the bottled water giant, which is up roughly 77% from its public offering on Sept. 8 in Hong Kong, when the company raised about $1.1 billion in one of the largest public offerings for the exchange so far this year.

Zhong also holds a controlling stake in Wantai Biological, a pharmaceutical firm that claims to be among the several Chinese companies developing a vaccine for Covid-19. Wantai is up more than 2,000% since its public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in April.

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