Alibaba's Jack Ma tops Forbes China Rich List

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, topped Forbes' China Rich List for the first time.

Ma's net worth soared to $19.5 billion in 2014, up from $7.1 billion last year, when he was ranked eighth, after his company, described as mixture of Amazon, eBay and Paypal , raised almost $22 billion in the largest U.S. initial public offering in history in September.

Overall, the number of Chinese billionaires jumped 44 percent on year to 242 in 2014, the Forbes rankings showed. And this year, China's richest had to make $700 million rather than $600 million to make the top ten.

"The fortunes of Chinese web entrepreneurs are starting to surpass U.S. tech icons like Paul Allen, Eric Schmidt, Jerry Yang and Sheryl Sandberg," said Russell Flannery, senior editor and Shanghai Bureau Chief for Forbes Asia.

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"That is telling us that China will compete with, if not surpass, the U.S. for the lion's share of new wealth to be made in an era when e-commerce and mobile services are going to become a lot more pervasive," he added.

Closely following Ma was Robin Li, the 45-year old founder of Baidu, China's largest internet search engine. Li's net worth is $14.7 billion, up from $11.1 billion a year ago. Nasdaq traded shares of Baidu hit record highs of above $231 per share in September.

Ma Huateng, founder and CEO of Chinese internet giant Tencent, also had a good year. His ranking jumped to third from fifth as his fortune grew to $14.4 billion from $10.2 billion last year.

Liu Qiangdong, the CEO of JD.com, China's second largest e-commerce firm, climbed to the tenth position on this year's list with a net worth of $7.1 billion, boosted by JD.com's successful listing on the Nasdaq in May.

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Other high flyers included renewable energy entrepreneur Li Hejun, who saw his net worth jump to $13 billion from $10.9 billion last year and ranked fifth on the list.

Lei Jun, CEO of electronics firm Xiaomi, ranked eighth after his fortune jumped to $9.1 billion. Xiaomi is China's most popular smartphone maker and accounts for roughly 5 percent of the global market.

Billionaires in the real estate sector had a more challenging year, however. Last year's richest tycoon - Wang Jianlin, the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group - fell three notches to the fourth position. His net worth dropped to $13.2 billion from $14.1 billion a year ago.

Last week official data showed home prices in China fell 1.3 percent year on year in September, the sector's fifth consecutive monthly drop. Property prices in China have fallen this year as government cooling measures have taken effect.

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Forbes.com compiled the list using shareholding and financial information obtained from families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, private databases and other sources. Net worth figures are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on October 10.

The top 10 richest in China are:

1) Jack Ma; $19.5 billion

2) Robin Li; $14.7 billion

3) Ma Huateng; $14.4 billion

4) Wang Jianlin; $13.2 billion

5) Li Hejun; $13 billion

6) Zong Qinghou; $11 billion

7) Wang Wenyin; $10 billion

8) Lei Jun; $9.1 billion

9) He Xiangjian; $7.5 billion

10) Liu Qiangdong; $7.1 billion