How Zhong Shanshan became the richest man in Asia

Zhong Shanshan, the bottled water tycoon
Water and Covid-19 test
An unusual entrepreneur
The recognizable red cap of Nongfu Spring
From $2 billion to $65.7 billion... in one year!
Tireless worker
The adventure that began in 1996
Product diversification
Wantai was the fastest
Initial Public Offering
Results in 75 minutes
A historic increase
In more than 100 companies
Zhong Shanshan, the bottled water tycoon

Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, is no longer the richest man in Asia. He has been overtaken by Zhong Shanshan, a magnate of.... bottled water! The entrepreneur managed to take advantage of the pandemic like no one else.

Water and Covid-19 test

In early 2020, and ahead of many entrepreneurs, Zhong Shanshan began manufacturing coronavirus tests. This initiative, coupled with the fact that his bottled water brand, Nongfu Spring, covers more than 25% of the market in this sector, has raised his fortune to 65.7 billion dollars.

An unusual entrepreneur

Born in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, in 1954, this businessman has a reputation for being ruthless, discreet, and reclusive. In fact, his presence among Asia's richest is a rarity, as most billionaires are tied to the technology industry.

The recognizable red cap of Nongfu Spring

However, Nongfu Spring water bottles are an emblem on the mainland, thanks to their recognizable red cap. A brand that has helped him become the richest man in Asia and the sixth richest in the world.

From $2 billion to $65.7 billion... in one year!

A qualitative and surprising leap because in 2020, Zhong Shanshan was not even among the 1,000 richest people in the world, despite having a net worth of 2 billion dollars. His case is undoubtedly one of those who have best taken advantage of the business opportunity of the pandemic.

 

Tireless worker

An entrepreneur who started working when he was still a teenager, going through sectors such as construction, journalism or selling beverages. It is clear that it was this last sector that inspired him when he decided to become an entrepreneur.

The adventure that began in 1996

It began in 1996, when he founded the Hangzhou bottled water company that would later become Nongfu Spring.

Product diversification

By absorbing other companies and diversifying its portfolio, Nongfu Spring has gradually taken over the Asian bottled water market. However, it is sugar-sweetened beverages and, above all, packaged teas that have boosted its relevance on the continent.

Wantai was the fastest

Three years later, in 1999, Zhong Shanshan founded the Yangshengtang Medical Group, whose biopharmaceutical subsidiary Wantai has been instrumental in increasing his fortune. In fact, he is still its majority shareholder.

Initial Public Offering

It was in 2020 when Zhong Shanshan decided to go public with his company. He did so by listing it on the Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock Exchanges, and the move could not have gone better. In January 2021, the entrepreneur still held 84.4% of the company's shares.

Results in 75 minutes

In parallel to the IPO, its Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise laboratory began manufacturing rapid screening tests for Covid-19, which produce results in 75 minutes. It is estimated to have sold more than ten million tests. In addition, the lab is working on a Covid-19 vaccine that would be administered by nasal spray and could elevate him, if it works, to the position of richest man in the world and achieve a scientific milestone.

 

A historic increase

For the time being, the sum of both movements has boosted Zhong Shanshan's fortune from $2 billion to $67.5 billion in just one year. One of the most dazzling in history.

 

"I don't like contact with people"

As for his reputation as a loner, Zhong Shanshan himself confirms this in one of the few interviews he has given to the press in his country. "I don't like contact with people, nor events where there is drinking. I'm not used to flattering others."

In more than 100 companies

This self-confessed hermetic attitude in the private sphere has not prevented him from gathering the largest fortune in Asia, with the certain possibility of continuing to increase it. According to China's commercial records, Zhong Shanshan has a presence in more than 100 companies, both as an investor and on the board of directors.

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