Alibaba's Ma displaced by Li Hejun as China's richest person

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Jack Ma is no longer China's richest man, having been overtaken by solar energy tycoon Li Hejun – whose Hanergy Holding Group Ltd has come under fire for its intragroup dealings.

E-commerce tycoon Ma and his family slipped to No 3 in China, and No. 34 globally, on the Hurun Global Rich List, with a personal wealth of $24.5 billion. He was topped by Li with a net worth of $26 billion. The No 2 spot was held by Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co Ltd's Wang Jianlin and his family.

Li's business empire covers the hydropower, solar energy and wind energy sectors. His Hanergy Group has been the subject of analyst concern over what the Financial Times last week called "unconventional practices" between the firm and its $19.7 billion Hong Kong-listed subsidiary Hanergy Thin Film Power Group Ltd.

Most of Hanergy's reported revenue since 2010 came from equipment sales to its parent and a large chunk of contracts were unpaid as of 2013, the Financial Times reported.

Former Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, whose personal wealth rose 25 per cent last year to $85 billion, once again topped the global list ahead of Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim on $83 billion and American investor Warren Buffett with $76 billion.

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing ranked 16th globally with $32 billion, while Li Hejun ranked 28th globally, alongside Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad.

According to the list, the number of super rich people in the world, those with assets of $1 billion or more, reached a record 2,089 last year, but their total wealth shrank by 1.5 per cent to $6.7 trillion.

The United States, with 537 billionaires, and China, including Hong Kong, with 430, dominate the global list.

This year, 72 new faces in the global ranking come from China, more than any other country, followed by the US with 56 and India with 27.

Seventeen billionaires - 14 of them Chinese - saw their fortunes double last year. The biggest gainer was Liu Qiangdong, the founder of e-commerce company whose wealth grew fourfold after his company listed on Nasdaq in May.

The average age in the global list is 64, while for China it is 58.

Just one of the world's top 20 wealthiest people came from Greater China though it minted more billionaires than anywhere else in the past year.

Hong Kong magnate Li Ka-shing was at No 16 with a net worth of $32 billion, while the rest were mainly from the United States.

Alibaba's Jack Ma partly dropped on the list after his company's stock price fell more than 13 per cent in the past week, sending shares to a three-month low, in the wake of disappointing quarterly results on Thursday and an unusually public spat with a Chinese regulator.

China's real estate, manufacturing and technology industries were the chief creators of wealth, the Hurun report showed. Richard Liu, chief executive of Inc, Alibaba's biggest rival in e-commerce, saw his wealth quadrupled to $6.7 billion after leading his firm to a New York listing in 2014, becoming the biggest gainer of the year.

China's domestic stock market rally also accounted for some of the new billionaires in China, Hurun said.