Entrepreneur Asia: Power Players

Asia's richest entrepreneurs 2014

Patrik Stollarz | AFP | Getty Images

The combined wealth of Asia's richest entrepreneurs jumped by more than half in the past year, underscoring the region's ability to harbor the world's fastest-growing billionaire population.

The wealth of Asia-Pacific's 10 richest businessmen totals at $169.9 billion as of March 31, 2014, according to data compiled by Wealth-X for CNBC, up 52 percent from year ago.

All net worth figures are calculated after accounting for their shares in public and private companies, as well as residential and passion investments such as art, planes and real estate.

Not surprisingly, the Chinese dominated the rankings, with a combined wealth of $128.7 billion, defying fears of a slowdown in the world's second-biggest economy. While there were just four Chinese and Hong Kongers among the top 10 names last year, this year's list featured seven.

"It has been as much about an increase in general confidence, as seen in the financial markets performing very strongly. For example, the S&P500 went up 30 percent, and the Nikkei was up 50 percent last year," Wealth-X said in a statement.

Click ahead for the full list of the richest self-made billionaires in Asia.

By Li Anne Wong, Follow her on Twitter @LiAnneCNBC

(Updated May 26, 2014)

10. Li Hejun, 46

Li Hejun, Chairman of Hanergy Holding Group.
ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

Net worth: $10.6 billion
Business base: China

Li Hejun, Chairman and CEO of clean energy giant Hanergy Holding Group, is a new entrant on the list and highlights the rapid rise of China's new energy industry as Beijing declares war on pollution.

Li personally owns 99 percent of Hanergy, which is one of the world's largest producers of thin-film solar panels and equipment.

His wealth was greatly bolstered by a surge in the market capitalization of Hanergy Solar Group, a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary for parent Hanergy group, which stood at 30.6 billion Hong Kong dollars ($3.94 billion) as of April 2014, up from 4.6 billion Hong Kong dollars at the start of 2013.

Li, who was born in 1967 in the Guandong Province, China, also owns one of the world's largest privately-held hydro-power plants in western China.

9. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, 69

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, chairman of Thai Beverage Pcl., right, and his son Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, executive vice-president of Thai Beverage Pcl., stand together during a function in Bangkok, Thailand.
Udo Weitz | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Net worth: $11.3 billion
Business base: Thailand

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the owner of Thailand's largest brewer, Thai Beverage (ThaiBev), has fallen to 9th place this year from 4th position last year. But his wealth is up, rising to $11.3 billion currently from $10.7 billion in 2013.

Charoen founded his beer empire in 1995, quickly winning over consumers with locally-produced brews, nabbing 60 percent of local market share within five years.

ThaiBev was established in 2003 and listed on the Singapore Exchange in 2006 with an IPO price of 0.28 Singapore dollars ($0.22). Shares currently trade around 0.60 Singapore dollars giving the firm a market cap of 15.07 billion Singapore dollars.

Charoen is best known in recent times for his aggressive move on Singapore's Fraser and Neave, to buy the soft drinks, dairy, publishing and real estate conglomerate for about $11 billion last year, in what is Southeast Asia's biggest corporate takeover.

(Image shows Charoen on the right, with his son Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, executive vice-president of Thai Beverage)

8. Ma Huateng, 42

Ma Huateng, chairman and chief executive officer of Tencent Holdings Ltd.
Brent Lewin | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Net worth: $13.2 billion
Business base: China

Ma Huateng, the co-founder and CEO of Tencent Holdings, is no stranger to rich lists. He is frequently featured in a variety of global billionaire rankings, and in January, briefly became China's richest man after shares in his Hong Kong-listed Internet messaging and app company hit a record high on strong earnings.

Tencent, which is worth $139 billion in market capitalization and has nearly a billion users, is one of China's most powerful Internet firms alongside Baidu, Alibaba and Sina. The firm's strength is in mobile: Its QQ and WeChat apps had 818 million and 236 million monthly active users, respectively, at the end of June last year, according to data from Bloomberg, more than eight times the population of Japan combined.

Like many successful tech startups in Silicon Valley, 42-year-old Ma – whose adopted English name is Pony – started Tencent with a bunch of college buddies back in 1998 offering an instant messaging product (which eventually became QQ) that became a huge hit with young Chinese.

Under Ma's leadership, Tencent is now expanding overseas, with some success in the Asian region. It is also reported to have funded or bought stakes in American startsups, according to an article published in Fast Company, as part of its ambition to break into the U.S. market.

7. Dilip Shanghvi, 58

Billionaire Dilip Shanghvi, managing director of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
Kuni Takahashi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Net worth: $13.5 billion
Business base: India

Dilip Shanghvi is the founder and managing director of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, India's largest drugmaker.

The company made headlines earlier this month, after inking a deal to buy its rival – troubled generic pharmaceutical firm Ranbaxy laboratories – from Japan's Daiichi Sankyo for $3.2 billion, creating the world's fifth-biggest maker of generic drugs.

Shanghvi has a strong track record of turning around companies. Since starting Sun back in 1993, he went on to build the company with a total of 16 acquisitions.

58-year-old Shanghvi is the biggest shareholder in Sun, which currently has a market capitalization of $21.1 billon.

6. Robert Kuok, 90

Kerry Group Chairman Robert Kuok.
ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

Net worth: $15.0 billion
Business base: Hong Kong

Influential tycoon Robert Kuok is Malaysia's richest man and the second-richest person in Southeast Asia after Thailand's Dhanin Chearavanon, according to the Forbes rich list of 2013.

His diverse business empire spans agriculture to trading to finance and property, and is arguably best-known for earning the moniker "Sugar King," when he made his initial wealth investing in sugar plantations back in the 1960s, at one point controlling 5 percent of the world's sugar market.

Other high-profile properties include the luxury global hospitality chain Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts and Hong Kong's main English daily newspaper the South China Morning Post.

Famously media-shy, the 90-year-old's business assets are mostly privately-held and kept within the family.

Currently, the biggest contributor of his wealth is his stake in Wilmar International, the world's biggest-listed palm oil company based in Singapore, founded by his nephew Kuok Khoon Hong.

5. Masayoshi Son, 56

Masayoshi Son, chairman, president and chief executive officer of SoftBank Corp.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Net worth: $16.4 billion
Business base: Japan

The only billionaire to climb in last year's top 10 rankings – by one spot to 5th place – is Masayoshi Son, the founder and chief executive of Japanese telco and Internet firm Softbank, Japan's second-biggest company by market capitalization.

Son was a big beneficiary of Abenomics, a term coined after Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive policies to kickstart the economy, which resulted in a soaring stock market that saw Softbank shares jump a whopping 188 percent last year.

An Internet pioneer and a known risk-taker whom Forbes estimated to have lost $18 billion during the dotcom bust, Son burst into the scene in the late 1990s introducing cyberspace to ordinary Japanese by lowering telco charges.

In 2006, Son, a personal friend of Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs, got Softbank into the mobile carrier business, buying Vodafone's Japan unit for $15.5 billion. More recently, he made headlines by purchasing U.S. mobile-phone carrier Sprint in 2012, for $21.1 billion.

Son has been compared to billionaire Richard Branson for his penchant for risks, but unlike the British entrepreneur whose Virgin brand has moved from music to space travel, the 56-year-old has stayed focused on the Internet and telco sphere.

4. Wang Jianlin, 59

Wang Jianlin, Chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group.
ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

Net worth: $16.6 billion
Business base: China

Chinese property tycoon Wang Jianlin, chairman of one of China's largest real estate developers, Dalian Wanda Group, also became a movie mogul after his firm shelled out $2.6 billion in 2012 to buy U.S.-based AMC Entertainment.

He has since embarked on a project to build an $8.18 billion "motion-picture city" in Dalian, in what he has described as the biggest-ever single investment in the movie and television industry. All part his grand goal to dominate 20 percent market share of the global film industry by 2020, he told CNBC last year.

Wang's obsession with the red carpet is on par only with his passion for property. His company is said to own over 9 million square meters of real estate in China, which includes – aside from theaters – luxury hotels, department stores and karaoke centers.

The 59-year old also made news late last year after his firm snapped up a Picasso painting for $28.2 million at a Christie's auction in New York – more than double the high-end estimate for the piece of art

3. Lui Che Woo, 84

Billionaire Lui Che Woo, chairman and founder of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd.
Brent Lewin | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Net worth: $21.1 billion
Business base: Hong Kong

Lui Che Woo is the founder of K. Wah Group, a multinational conglomerate engaged in properties, entertainment and hospitality, including the Hong Kong-listed flagship Galaxy Entertainment Group.

China-born Lui's fortunes have soared after shares of Galaxy, which owns and operates hotels and casinos in Macau, doubled in the past year.

The octogenarian ventured into the casino business in 2002 when he bid $1.1 billion for a gaming license in Macau, which ended its casino monopoly system in that year.

Lui began his empire on humble footing; he bought construction equipment left behind by U.S. forces after World War II which he imported to Hong Kong and established K. Wah Group in 1955.

2. Lee Shau Kee, 86

Lee Shau-kee, chairman of Henderson Land Development Co.
Timothy O'Rourke | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Net worth: $22.8 billion
Business base: Hong Kong

China-born Lee Shau Kee is one of Hong Kong's richest landlords, who founded and still leads Henderson Land Development, a property conglomerate with interests in hotels, restaurants and internet services.

Nicknamed the 'Warren Buffett of Hong Kong' for accruing substantial profits from his holdings in a well-diversified portfolio, Lee's well-telegraphed master stroke in business was to transfer assets from China to Hong Kong before the start of communist rule in the mainland in 1949.

The son of a gold trader and money changer got his headstart co-founding Sun Hung Kai, another key property developer in Hong Kong, with the late Kwok Tak-Seng, before branching out on his own in the 1960s establishing Henderson Land.

Lee, 86, is a major player in companies behind the economic prowess of Hong Kong. His group also controls the ferry operator Hong Kong Ferry Company and Hong Kong & China Gas – which has a citywide monopoly of piped gas used by some 85 percent of Hong Kong homes.

1. Li Ka-Shing, 85

Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd.
Jerome Favre | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Net worth: $29.4 billion
Business base: Hong Kong

This year's richest self-made entrepreneur in Asia is Li Kashing, chairman of Hong Kong-based multi-national conglomerates Cheung Kong Holdings and Hutchison Whampoa, who retains the pole position for a second-year running.

Through both companies the business magnate, investor and philanthropist controls a major chunk of the world's container terminals business and is a key player in the health and beauty retail sectors globally.

The 85-year-old is considered one of the most powerful business figures in Asia and his reputation for savvy business deals has earned him the nickname "superman."

His reputation for leading a no-frills lifestyle belies his massive wealth. He is known to wear inexpensive wristwatches, despite residing at Deep Water Bay, one of Hong Kong's most expensive precincts.

Li is famously media-shy, but his wealth has made him somewhat of a celebrity, even earning a wax figure being exhibited at the Madame Tussauds museum in Shanghai.