Billionaires Increase as Ma Reclaims Lost Spot
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chairman Jack Ma regained his spot as Asia’s richest person with a higher valuation for the company’s finance affiliate ahead of a stock sale that also created a dozen new billionaires.
Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group Co., which owns payments processor Alipay, is valued at about $50 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. Ant Financial is weighing a private placement before going public in 2016, and details of the planned fundraising aren’t finalized, the people said last week, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.
The latest valuation for Ant Financial boosted Ma’s fortune by about $10 billion to $36.4 billion as of Friday in New York, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, overtaking Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos. The new billionaires from the bigger valuation include the e-commerce giant’s Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Lu and Chief People Officer Lucy Peng.
“The entire e-payments market has just started,” said Li Yujie, an analyst at RHB Research Institute Sdn. in Hong Kong. “In the future, Alipay will capture a lot of this market. When it goes public, it will produce many new billionaires.”
Lu and Peng, both co-founders of Alibaba, each have a fortune valued at about $1.8 billion, based on their stakes in Ant Financial, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Shao Xiaofeng, who joined Alibaba in 2005 and has been its chief risk officer in the past 2 1/2 years, has a fortune of about $1.2 billion, according to the index.
Room for Growth
“It’s got formidable room for growth,” said Cyrus Mewawalla, managing director of London-based CM Research Ltd. “As Alibaba expands in global markets, so could Alipay. If technology companies do well, then their owners become billionaires.”
Bob Christie, Alibaba’s spokesman, declined to comment on the new valuation and billionaires.
Other Alibaba co-founders and senior executives also emerge as stakeholders of Ant Financial. Chief Operating Officer Daniel Zhang and the other eight shareholders each have a net worth of more than $1 billion, according to the index. Zhang and CEO Lu are among the Alibaba executives who are on the board, along with Ma and Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai, who has a $5.8 billion fortune.
The other senior executives include President Jianhang Jin, Trudy Dai, Alibaba’s chief customer officer, Jian Wang, chief technology officer, and his deputy Peng Jiang. Other billionaire shareholders are Eddie Wu, Zeng Ming, Tiger Wang and Judy Tong.