Zhong Shanshan becomes Asia’s richest person: All you need to know China's bottled water king

After overtaking Alibaba's Jack Ma to become China’s richest person in September last year, the 66-year-old billionaire Zhong Shanshan has dethroned Indian businessman Mukesh Ambani, to become Asia's richest man.

Born in December 1954, in Hangzhou, China, Shanshan's net worth is estimated at $77.8 billion, making him the 11th-richest person in the world right behind Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison. Mukesh Ambani’s net worth is $76.9 billion.

Zhong Shanshan is the chairman of both bottled water company Nongfu Spring and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise. According to the reports, together, the two companies reported more than $3.6 billion in revenue in 2019. He gives credit of his success to these two unrelated fields.

The billionaire took vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise Co. public in April, then months later he acquired Nongfu Spring Co., a maker of bottled water, which became one of hottest listings in Hong Kong. Nongfu shares have jumped 155 per cent since their debut, and Wantai’s shares are up more than 2,000 per cent.

If one goes by the reports in the Chinese media, Zhong is known as a “Lone Wolf”, he does not involve himself in politics or business groups. Moreover, he is rarely seen making public appearances and talking to the media.

Zhong, early career encompassed mushroom farming and the sale of erectile dysfunction pills.

Meanwhile, Nongfu stock hit a peak this week after Citigroup Inc. analysts said the company has solidified its market dominance and enjoys ample cash flow. Zhong’s other firm, Wantai, is among those developing a Covid-19 vaccine, Bloomberg said in its report.

Zhong growth is also driven by hit to China’s tech companies which are facing increased government scrutiny. Jack Ma, Asia’s richest person before Ambani took over, is now worth $51.2 billion, down from a high of $61.7 billion in October, said reports.

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