For a significant period of time, e-tailing behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s founder Jack Ma managed to hold on to the crown of Asia’s richest person. However, after the advent of Reliance Jio – the telecom business of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani – Mr Ma his top slot to Mr Ambani.
That was the story till 2020. During the pandemic, Mr Ambani’s stars aligned perfectly as he went on a fund-raising spree for his telecom venture. On the other hand, Mr Ma saw his fortunes dwindle, as China’s all powerful communist regime decided to crack down on him, after his criticism of the government.
In 2021 alone, Mr Ma lost US$2.53 billion of his wealth, as the shares of Alibaba tanked by 14.24% in Hong Kong.
Fast forward to July 2021, let alone Asia’s, Mr Ma isn’t even China’s richest man now. He has been replaced by Zeng Yuqun, who is increased his wealth by US$18.5 billion year-to-date.
But who is Mr Yuqun?
Also known as Robin Zeng, Mr Yuqun is the founder and chairman of battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology. Mr Yuqun was born in 1968 in port city Ningde, south-eastern Chinese province of Fujian. Studying at the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, he earned a Ph.D. in physics there before starting to work for a state-owned shipbuilding company in his home province. It was in 2011 that he founded Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) in his home city.
What propelled him to the top slot?
Mr Yuqun’s company – CATL – is the world’s biggest electric-vehicle battery maker. As the electric vehicle industry continues to heat up in light of global green transition, CATL’s share prices have surged by an impressive 35.31% on a year-to-date basis. The surge in Mr Yuqun’s wealth comes as the world’s most populous country leads the market for electric vehicle sales and pursues an ambitious policy of reaching carbon neutrality in 2060. Also, Mr Yuqun’s CATL is a key supplier of batteries to flamboyant billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA).