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Bottled Water Seller Becomes China’s Richest Man

The owner of China’s largest bottled water maker has overtaken Alibaba’s Jack Ma to become China’s richest man, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index showed Thursday.

According to Financial Times, Nongfu Spring founder Zhong Shanshan’s net worth has hit $58.7 billion after a massive listing by the bottled water company in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg estimates that makes him richer than Mr. Ma, whose fortune dipped to $56.7bn after shares in e-commerce group Alibaba fell 0.9 percent in New York on Wednesday.

This makes him $2 billion richer than previous number one, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, the wealth index said.

Zhong’s Nongfu Spring, which claims to be number one in China’s massive bottled water market, is ubiquitous across a country where most people shun tap water for health reasons.

The company raised nearly $1.1 billion in its initial public offering.

Zhong is also the chairman of Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Co. Ltd., a vaccine manufacturer listed on the mainland in April.

It is developing a Covid-19 vaccine nasal spray in conjunction with a prominent university.

Zhong, a 66-year-old former reporter from Zhejiang who state media say was also once a construction worker, is often referred to by Chinese media as a “lone wolf” for his rare public appearances and reluctance to be interviewed.

He founded Nongfu in 1996, just as China’s bottled water market began to take off.

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