Global stocks have plummeted over the past two months, with the Dow Jones tumbling 21%, European markets down in the double-digits, Japan down 18% and Hong Kong down 10%. The only major market that rose was China’s benchmark index, which ticked up 0.2%.
But it wasn’t just the bullish Chinese equities at play.
Nearly all of the 100 tycoons lost money during this period, from Jan. 31 to Mar. 31, lots of money. Only nine didn’t, and most striking, all nine are Chinese.
But over the past two months, more than $400 billion has vanished from the pocketbooks of the world’s richest 100 billionaires. That means all their gains over the last two and half years have evaporated during this crisis, according to a new report by wealth-list compiler Hurun Research.
China’s mercurial stock markets explain some of this group of outliers.
“China has been the relative winner, with its stock markets weathering the virus better than its U.S. and European counterparts,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report chairman and chief researcher.
Whilst the virus has created a surge in demand around the world for medical equipment manufacturers, the lockdown has created a boom in videoconferencing for businesses and distance learning for children, as well as, surprisingly, Chinese pork producers,” Hoogewerf said.
Eric Yuan Zheng, founder and CEO of videoconferencing platform Zoom Video Communications, was the overall top gainer of the past two months, with his wealth rising 77%, or $3.5 billion, to $8 billion.
This leap was due to the exponential adoption of Zoom technology for online conferencing and educational courses during the crisis.
Yuan said last week that the number of daily users has leapt from 10 million at the end of December to more than 200 million last month.
However, Yuan’s fortunes may be short-lived. Last week, the company ignited an ongoing controversy over its privacy controls and its technical ability to handle surging user loads. This prompted
The privacy concerns prompted New York City to ban use of Zoom for its more than 1 million students who have or will utilize remote learning tools during the city’s virus-stricken quarantine period.
Other logical gainers were the mother-and-son heads of Chinese test prep platform Offcn, and Alex Xu Hang of ventilator and medical-device producer Mindray, which is still seeing increasing demand worldwide, the company said.
Mindray, a leading provider of medical devices and solution, has received the contract from the Italian government to supply nearly 10,000 medical devices for patient monitoring and treatment in connection with COVID-19. The first batch of medical equipment, including 5000 patient monitors and 400 ventilators, landed in Italy on March 28.
In two days, all devices had been installed in the major hospitals which are racing against time to rescue the critically ill. It took the Company only 15 days from receiving order to completing the delivery and installation of the first batch devices.
The more initially puzzling success story, however, was Chinese pork giant Muyuan Foods, whose husband-and-wife executives added $3 billion to their personal wealth over the past two months, adding to their combined $22 billion.
But the reason is simple. As China’s pork industry has been ravaged by African swine fever and production volumes have dwindled, prices have skyrocketed and enriched those who can retain healthy herds and keep even moderate-level output.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma, the second-richest person in China, pledged $14 million from his foundation to help develop a coronavirus vaccine and said on Friday he would donate 500,000 testing kits and one million face masks to the U.S.
Neolix - Yu Enyuan
Neolix, a driverless delivery company based in Beijing, has been utilizing its self-driving vans to deliver goods and medical supplies to most areas that are affected. It was essential, particularly in delivering these necessities in the epicenter of the COVID-19 in China. Its autonomous vans are also used to help move food to people who are working on the front lines and disinfect streets to stop the spread of coronavirus.
"Demand has been surging since the virus outbreak, and more importantly, people's perception toward driverless delivery had a complete108-degree shift" Yu Enyuan, Neolix founder, remarked.
"People realize that such vehicles can get things done when it is risky for a human being to do so. China's digital services economy has prospered during the crisis as people shifted to online consumption.
Charles Lu and Jenny Qian Zhiya, went from billionaires to millionaires in a matter of days last week after a fraud scandal at the Nasdaq-listed company caused their share price to drop nearly 90%.
The biggest loser of the crisis period has been Bernard Arnault, head of French luxury conglomerate LVMH , whose wealth sank $30 billion, or some $20 million per hour, according to Hurun. This is a dramatic reversal of fortunes for Arnault, whose booming 2019 made him second only to Jeff Bezos as the richest person in the world.
Speaking of Bezos, the Amazon founder’s valuation declined a “mere” $9 billion to $131 billion, keeping him easily the wealthiest person on Earth.