Founder of Tesla supplier CATL topples Li Ka-shing as Hong Kong’s richest man

Nadia Lam
·3-min read

Robin Zeng Yuqun, the founder of Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), has overtaken Li Ka-shing as the wealthiest person in Hong Kong, according to Forbes.

Zeng’s real-time net worth, which stood at US$34.5 billion as of Wednesday, has surpassed that of Li’s by US$0.2 billion. They were ranked 41st and 42nd respectively, in the magazine’s real-time global rich list.

The Forbes real-time billionaires’ rankings track the net worth of each of the world’s richest people and are updated in real time. This is not the magazine’s annual rich list. As of Wednesday, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos topped the list with a net worth of US$193.2 billion, followed by LVMH’s Bernard Arnault and family.

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Car component suppliers have benefited from a strong demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in recent years. It is estimated that the EV market could rise to 45 per cent globally by 2040, according to Fitch Ratings.

This boom in EVs has helped Zeng’s net worth grow more than 2.5 times since March 2020. He owns a 25 per cent stake in CATL, whose clients include carmakers Tesla, BMW and NIO. Its battery packs are, in fact, used by most new EV brands.

Li, 92, on the other hand, has been Hong Kong’s richest man for decades. He founded the conglomerate Cheung Kong Holdings. In 2018, he stood down with son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi succeeding him at the helm of the conglomerate.

In recent years, the shares of Li’s property development flagship CK Asset Holdings have fallen from a high of HK$72 a share to HK$49. Last year, he was briefly overtaken by Henderson Land Development’s Lee Shau-kee as Hong Kong’s wealthiest individual.

Zeng, 53, was born in China’s Fujian province and acquired Hong Kong residency through a government scheme in 2005. He founded CATL, the world’s largest manufacturer of batteries for EVs in 2011. The company, which had a market capitalisation of 904 billion yuan (US$139.6 billion) as of Wednesday, was listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2017. Its share price has surged by more than twofold since last year.

The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, under which Zeng got his residency, was launched by the Hong Kong government in 2006 to attract highly-skilled persons to the city. A total of 7,127 applicants had been accepted under the programme as of January, according to government data.

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