Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba. Photo: YouTube
Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba. Photo: YouTube

The ongoing United States-China trade war has been blamed for reducing the number of tycoons and their wealth in China. That is according to the Hurun Research Institute, which recorded a record number of mainland tycoons dropping out of the wealthy list it has compiled for the past 20 years.

More than 21%, or 456 businessmen, dropped out of the rich list in 2017, which totaled 2,130. The list included people with more than 2 billion yuan (US$290 million) in net worth as of August 15.

“A 20% drop in the stock exchange, on the back of a slowing economy and the US-China trade war, resulted in 456 drop-offs this year, the highest since records began 20 years ago,” said Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher Rupert Hoogewerf.

In the 12 months ended August 15th, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 16%, while Shenzhen fell 19%. The Hang Seng Index rose 1%. But all three indexes in China and Hong Kong were lower because of ongoing trade war concerns.

Still, the number of Chinese making the rich list was up near 90% to 1,893 in 2018 from five years ago. When Hoogewerf first started the list, he had only eight people with more than 2 billion yuan on the list.

In 2018, more rich people (1,012) saw their wealth shrink than grow (881), with the number of people on the rich list dropping 11% from 2017.

But the wealth has become more concentrated, according to Hoogewerf, as the top 10 rich people accounted for 10% of the overall wealth.

For the first time in four years, Alibaba Group Jack Ma Yun reclaimed the lead as the richest Chinese tycoon, with a net worth of US$39 billion, up US$10 billion, thanks to the rise in valuation of his payment arm Ant Financial.

Ma edged out China Evergrande chairman Hui Ka-yan, the No. 1 property tycoon, with a net worth stated at US$36.1 billion.

Pony Ma Huateng of Tencent Holdings dropped to No. 3 with a net worth of US$34.6 billion, down US$1.2 billion because of the weakness of his main flagship, which fell more than 40% year-to-date.

That also marked the first time in 13 years that Pony Ma saw his net worth decrease.

Read: Tencent, Alibaba lost $382 billion in market cap this year