Baidu's Robin Li richest in China

New York (China Daily/ANN) - Li Yanhong, chairman and founder of the search engine giant Baidu Inc, topped Forbes' latest list of the richest people on the Chinese mainland.

In the World's Billionaires list released by Forbes.com on Wednesday, Li, also known as Robin Li, ranked 86th globally with a personal fortune of US$10.2 billion.

The Mexican telecoms czar Carlos Slim topped the list, sporting a fortune of $69 billion. Although the figure is lower than last year, Slim's wealth still outpaces that of his closest rival, Microsoft Corp's founder Bill Gates.

Forbes said 1,226 tycoons made it onto its global list of billionaires this year, but Slim held onto the top spot for the third straight year, with $8 billion more than Gates.

In third place is the US investment guru Warren Buffett, who is worth $44 billion. The Berkshire Hathaway chairman is followed by the French luxury king Bernard Arnault with $41 billion, and a newcomer to the top five, Spain's Amancio Ortega, the owner of the Zara fashion chain, whose net worth surged by $6.5 billion to $37.5 billion.

Despite the sluggish global economy, Forbes said the billionaires' list grew: there were 128 newcomers while 117 dropped off, with an average net worth of $3.7 billion, unchanged from last year.

Larry Ellison of the US software giant Oracle Corp, Brazilian mining tycoon Eike Batista, the owner of Hennes & Mauritz AB Stefan Persson of Sweden, Hong Kong's Li Ka-shing and Germany's Karl Albrecht, who owns the Aldi supermarket chain, make up the rest of the top 10.

The US was still the global centre of wealth, with 425 billionaires on the list.

US billionaires dominated the top 20. But Russia and China outpaced the older industrial powers in terms of concentrated wealth.

There were 96 Russians on the list, led by the steel and telecoms investor Alisher Usmanov, who ranked 28th overall with $18.1 billion, and 95 Chinese mainland millionaires, led by Robin Li. Behind them were 55 Germans, 48 Indians, 37 Britons, 38 people from Hong Kong, 36 Brazilians, 25 from Canada, and 24 billionaires each from Taiwan and Japan.

Baidu is the most popular search site in the world's most populous country. Founded in 2000 and listed on the Nasdaq in 2005, Baidu's Li has frequently been placed on the World's Billionaires list since 2008.

Li dropped off on the list in 2009, but returned to the ranks in 2010 with a net worth nearly double the 2008 figure, thanks to annual growth of 281 per cent. Baidu shares, together with Li's fortune, skyrocketed in 2010 after Google Inc exited China early that year.

Li, 43, has remained on the list since then. Baidu now owns a 78-per cent share of China's search engine market.

Speaking to the Financial Times in March last year, Li announced the company would gear up for a push into the mobile electronics industry, which he said was an irresistible developing trend in the Internet industry.

Ma Huateng, CEO of Tencent Holdings Ltd, William Ding, CEO of NetEase.com; and Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba Group, made the top 500.

Fourteen Chinese shared last position on the list with a net worth of $1 billion.

In total, seven Chinese women made the list. Wu Yajun, 48, was the richest Chinese woman on the list, ranking 178th with a fortune of $5.7 billion.

Yang Huiyan, the second-richest Chinese woman on the list, was also the youngest Chinese billionaire. The 30-year-old real estate tycoon is worth $4.7 billion.

AFP in Washington contributed to this story.

maliyao@chinadaily.com.cn

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