Robin Li passes Wang Jianlin as China’s richest person

Updated: 2013-12-05
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Robin Li, the founder of China's largest Internet search engine, Baidu, has passed Wang Jianlin as the richest person in the mainland by US$63.6 million. [File Photo]
Robin Li, the founder of China's largest Internet search engine, Baidu, has passed Wang Jianlin as the richest person in the mainland by US$63.6 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.

Li's net worth has climbed by US$4.8 billion, or 65 percent, to US$12.23 billion so far this year as Baidu shares rallied.

Wang, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, has seen his fortune rise by US$2.9 billion to US$12.2 billion.

Wang may reclaim top spot after he sells shares in AMC Entertainment Holdingsm, the US cinema chain he bought for US$2.6 billion in 2012. AMC this week said it plans to raise as much as US$368 million in an initial public offering.

Quick expansion in smartphones and tablets plus a predominant position in the desktop search market have boosted Baidu shares 69 percent in the past six months, says Lucy Zhang, an analyst at internet consulting group IResearch.

Baidu had an 81 percent share of search-engine queries in China in the three months ended June, according to data. Baidu's market share for desktop search has been stable as threats to its dominance faded after Qihoo failed to Inc's search engine Sogou, Zhang said. Baidu was co-founded by Li on January 1, 2000 in Beijing's Zhongguancun, China's equivalent of Silicon Valley. The company sold shares on the Nasdaq in 2005.

The bulk of Li's wealth comes from his 20.8 percent stake in Baidu. The shares are owned directly by Li and his wife Melissa Dongmin Ma through Handsome Rewards, a British Virgin Islands-based holding company. The 45-year-old billionaire also owns 1 per cent of 360buy Jingdong Mall, a closely held Chinese online retailer that had revenue of US$3.9 billion in 2012.
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