Hong Kong’s Li reclaims Asia’s richest spot: Forbes


Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing has reclaimed the top spot as Asia’s richest man after a seven-year gap, unseating India’s Lakshimi Mittal in the latest Forbes billionaires list released Thursday.
The 83-year-old Li is worth $25.5 billion, according to Forbes, overtaking London-based Indian steel barron Mittal, who lost $10.4 billion last year as shares in his ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, plunged.
Mittal, who also dropped out of the global top 10 for the first time since 2005, is now estimated to be worth $20.7 billion.
Li, nicknamed “superman” for his long-running business success, started out in business as a maker of plastic flowers and now commands a vast empire with interests including property telecoms, utilities, ports and retail.
One in every seven residences in Hong Kong, a southern Chinese city of seven million people, was built by Li’s companies, which also handle 70 percent of the former British colony’s port traffic, according to Forbes.
The second richest Asian on the Forbes’s annual list is India’s Mukesh Ambani with $22.3 billion. His wealth declined as shares of his oil and gas conglomerate, Reliance Industries, dropped in value amid falling gas output.
Globally, Li rose from the 11th spot to ninth on the world’s richest ranking, while Ambani and Mittal took the 19th and 21st spots respectively.
Mexican telecoms czar Carlos Slim topped the world list with a $69 billion fortune.
The top 20 Asian billionaires were collectively worth $264 billion last year, $15 billion poorer than the previous year due to weak global financial markets.
“Choppy stock markets took the sheen off the world’s billionaire factory, hurting the fortunes of its wealthiest,” Forbes said.
Indians continued to dominate among the Asians with eight in the top 20, despite a weakening rupee and a slowing economy. All eight were less well off than in 2011 except for pharma entrepreneur Dilip Shanghvi.