Billionaire Executives Boom In China As Stock Market Soars

The top 50 executives were worth $5.1 billion combined.

Company executives in China were the big winners of last year's soaring stock market, with the top 50 executives worth nearly 40 billion yuan (US$5.1 billion), state media said Jan. 3. None of the top 50 was worth less than 200 million yuan and half of the top 50 saw their stock portfolios break the 500 million yuan mark, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Zhang Jindong, the chairman of the Suning Appliance Co., one of the country's largest home appliance chain stores, has become China's richest executive, according to the report The 210 million shares he holds in the company quadrupled in value in 2006, pushing his estimated wealth to nearly nine billion yuan.

Lu Guanqiu, the chairman of Wanxiang Group, was catapulted to a second spot on the list due to steep rises in the value of his shares in Chengde Lulu, a beverage maker, and Wanxiang Qianchao Company, an auto parts manufacturer.

The take off in executive fortunes has been set off by shareholder reforms which allow previously non-tradable state-owned shares to be converted into ordinary stock and turned into cash, the report said.

After stagnating for the past five years, China's stock markets finally boomed in the latter half of last year. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index hit a record of 2,675 points on the last trading day of 2006, bringing gains for a remarkable year to 130%.

The State Information Center, the Cabinet's think tank, predicted that the value of China's stock markets could grow by 20% in 2007, Xinhua said in a recent report.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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