Zhong Shanshan rose to become Asia’s richest man with a worth of nearly $77.8 billion on Dec. 31.
According to Bloomberg, Zhong, 66, a bottled water and vaccine tycoon, is the 11th richest person on the planet.
“It’s one of the fastest accumulations of wealth in history,” said the report as Zhong’s businesses surged from $70.9 billion to $77.8 billion this year. He overtook India’s Mukesh Ambani whose worth surged to $76.9 billion. Before Ambani, Chinese philanthropist and businessman Jack Ma was Asia’s richest man. Ma’s net worth has dropped to $51.2 billion.
A school dropout, Zhong worked as a construction worker, a newspaper reporter, and a beverage sales agent before starting his own business. Last September, he rose to become China’s richest businessman after overtaking Ma by over $2 billion.
Headquartered in Hangzhou in China’s Zhejiang province, Zhong’s bottled water company Nongfu Spring Co is Hong Kong’s most popular among retail investors.
Zhong has also helped four relatives become billionaires. His younger sister, Zhong Xiaoxiao, and three of his wife’s siblings each hold a 1.4% stake in Nongfu worth $1.3 billion, based on the ownership listed in the company’s prospectus. The firm has produced dozens of millionaires, including more of Zhong’s relatives and employees.
Zhong is close to entering the rarefied realm of individuals worth more than $100 billion. He now has more wealth than Warren Buffett but the Berkshire Hathaway founder has given away more than $37 billion of stock since 2006.