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Tencent’s $40 billion (Dh146.9bn) surge this past week has boosted the fortune of its founder and chief executive Pony Ma, helping him overtake Alibaba founder Jack Ma to become China’s richest person.
Mr Pony, 48, now has a net worth of $55.3bn while Mr Ma is worth $44.5bn, according to Forbes. The country’s largest games developer surpassed Alibaba as Asia’s most valuable company, with its shares rising above HK$500 (Dh237) for the first time in intraday trading last Wednesday.
The coronavirus pandemic has hastened the digitisation of the workplace and changed consumers’ habits, boosting the shares of many internet companies. Now technology tycoons are dominating the ranks of China’s richest people.
Pinduoduo, a shopping app also known as PDD that is like Groupon, has more than doubled in value this year.
PDD founder Colin Huang, whose net worth stands at $43.8bn, pushed property mogul Hui Ka Yan of the China Evergrande Group into fourth position earlier this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Ding Lei of NetEase rounds off the top five.
Tencent has come a long way since hitting a low in 2018, when China froze the approval process for new games. Since then, the stock has almost doubled, and last month the company reported a 26 per cent jump in first-quarter revenue.
“Tencent’s online games segment will probably perform strongly through the Covid-19 pandemic, and most of its other businesses are relatively unscathed,” said Vey-Sern Ling, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.
That has been a boon for Mr Pony who owns a 7 per cent stake in the company and pocketed about $757 million from the sale of about 14.6 million Tencent shares this year.
Mr Pony studied computer science at Shenzhen University and was a software developer at a supplier of telecoms services and products
before forming Tencent with four others in the late 1990s. At the time, the company focused on instant messaging services.
He overtook property tycoon Wang Jianlin as China’s second-richest person in 2013 and topped Baidu’s Robin Li as the wealthiest in early 2014. Later that year, Alibaba went public in the US, boosting Jack Ma’s fortune.
Tencent shares are up 31 per cent this year while Alibaba has advanced by just 6.9 per cent.
Source: The National