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Founder of discount e-shopping firm PDD races up China's rich list

By Casey Hall

SHANGHAI, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The founder of PDD Holdings saw his wealth swell by $13.8 billion in a year, as a slowing global economy drove more shoppers to the Chinese company's discount e-commerce platforms Temu and Pinduoduo, an annual rich list showed on Tuesday.

Colin Huang, who founded PDD in 2015 and stepped down as CEO in 2020, was the fastest riser in this year's Hurun Rich List, leaping seven places to be ranked China's third richest man with a $37.2 billion fortune. It also marked the first time he had broken into the top 3 ranking.

The growth of his fortune reflects the changing e-commerce landscape both in China, where consumer confidence remains low after three years of COVID curbs, and abroad where shopping platforms such as Temu and Shein are gaining steam. PDD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jack Ma, founder of rival Alibaba which is currently going through a restructuring and working to fend off competition from the likes of PDD, fell one place from 2022 to 10th spot and the number of Alibaba shareholders on the list fell from 18 last year, to 12 this year.

Richard Liu, who founded e-commerce giant JD.com, also saw his wealth, and that of his wife Zhang Zetian, fall by $6.2 billion since last year to $8.26 billion, according to Hurun's list.

JD.com's shares fell to a record low earlier this month after banks cut its price targets citing a weaker-than-expected recovery in consumer spending.

"Going global has been one of the key sources of growth this year," said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher, citing PDD's Temu, ByteDance's short video platform TikTok and ultra-fast fashion brand Shein as examples.

The founder of bottled water brand Nongfu Spring, Zhong Shanshan, retained his first place for the third year running on the list with a $62 billion fortune while Pony Ma, founder of social media and gaming giant Tencent was second with $38.6 billion.

Hurun also said 179 individuals dropped off this year's list, which ranks China's wealthiest people with a minimum net worth of 5 billion yuan, 15% of which were in real estate, as the sector grapples with a prolonged debt crisis.

Wang Jianlin, owner of Dalian Wanda Group and once China's richest man, saw his wealth and that of his family fall by $7.3 billion and 57 spots to be placed in 89th position with a $6.47 billion fortune.

The founder of China Evergrande Group, the world's most indebted property developer, remained on the list at 268 place despite his company's woes, due to dividends paid out in previous years, Hurun said. Hui Ka Yan is currently being investigated over suspected "illegal crimes", Evergrande said last month. (Reporting by Casey Hall; editing by Brenda Goh and Miral Fahmy)

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