Photograph by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
It’s the battle of the billionaires, and it is about to be fought out on the Chinese Internet. Three of China’s richest businessmen are teaming up to form a new 5 billion yuan ($814 million) online shopping company to take on Alibaba Group, itself headed by China’s wealthiest man.
Real estate developer Dalian Wanda Group, with a 70 percent stake, will join with Internet games and social media company Tencent Holdings (0700:HK) and Baidu (BIDU), China’s largest Internet search company, each with a 15 percent share. The heads of the three companies announced the e-commerce venture at a meeting in Shenzhen earlier today.
Wang Jianlin, 59-year-old chairman of Wanda, is now China’s fourth-richest man. Baidu’s Robin Li, 45, is the third-richest, while Tencent’s Ma Huateng, 41, is second in wealth only to 49-year-old Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of Alibaba, Ma’s fortune is estimated to be $21.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His company, China’s biggest e-commerce player, plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange next month.
“It’s a very interesting battle to watch—three top rich people join hands to challenge another bigger billionaire,” said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center, a private research agency in Hangzhou, in an interview with Bloomberg News. China’s e-commerce market will hit $495 billion next year, tripling from 2011, according to McKinsey.