|Cheung Yan has topped a list of China's richest
people for the first time.|
A woman has topped a list of China's richest
people for the first time, elbowing past two-time leader Huang Guangyu of
GOME Electrical Appliances.
Newly minted billionaire Cheung Yan -- the 49 year-old founder and
chairwoman of top Chinese paper packager Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings)
Ltd. -- saw her fortune balloon nine-fold to US$3.4 billion boosted by her
firm's March initial public offering.
The entrepreneur, who controlled 72 percent of Nine Dragons as of
August 31, has lapped up a 165 percent rally in the company's stock,
according to an annual survey compiled by Rupert Hoogewerf, who pioneered
a list for Forbes.
Cheung's stellar ascent is rare in a country whose largest corporations
are state-owned or run by well-connected male executives.
"China's women are becoming more visible in business," said Hoogewerf,
who has published the list since 1999.
"Traditionally women have always been on the inside and men have been
on the outside. It hasn't been until the economic reforms that women have
actually started to make inroads into the public arena."
Cheung, born in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province and now a
Los Angeles native, began building her fortune in 1985, when she set up a
waste-paper trading business in Hong Kong.
She later became the top exporter of scrap
paper by volume in the United States, processing the paper
in China to make containerboard.
Her personal wealth leapt from $375 million last year, when she was
logged as number 36 in the survey, surpassing appliances king Huang's $2.5
billion, according to the report.
The 500 richest Chinese in the Hurun report are now worth an average of
US$276 million, a 48 percent rise over the previous year, controlling a
total US$138 billion in assets.