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This year, Forbes welcomed 236 newcomers to its annual list. Get to know some of the noteworthy billionaires from Asia

With war and uncertainty, 2022 has not been as great a year for the world’s richest as it was in 2021. According to Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires list, a list comprising more than 2,000 billionaires worldwide, there are 87 fewer billionaires in this year’s report. On the whole, the combined net worth of the world’s richest people dropped by a whopping US$400 billion from when the report was released last year. 

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Though deemed as “the worst year for billionaire drop-offs” by Forbes, it’s clearly been a bumper year for some. This year, Forbes welcomed 236 newcomers from various industries to the extensive list. Among the freshman class of billionaires, there were some notable women who made the list too.

The newcomers include Grammy award-winning singer Rihanna, with a net worth of US$1.7 billion from her beauty brand Fenty, as well as Melinda French Gates of Microsoft with a net worth of US$6.2 billion. On the same list, there were also many new Asian debutantes; China came in first this year with the most number of billionaires produced, while India came in third. Here, we highlight the most notable Asian newcomers to know. 

#163. Zhang Congyuan (China)

Net worth: US$11.7 billion

Zhang Congyuan is the founder of Zhongshan Huali Industrial Group, a shoe manufacturer based in Zhongshan, China. The 74 year-old business mogul, who founded his company in 2004, is currently the richest self-made billionaire from Taiwan. His company supplies footwear to dozens of renowned sportswear brands including the likes of Nike, Converse, Vans, Puma, UGG, Columbia and Under Armour.

Today, Zhongshan Huali Industrial Group has expanded all over the world and has manufacturing plants in Vietnam, Dominica, Myanmar and other regions. With an annual output of more than 180 million pairs of footwear, Zhongshan Huali is one of the major players in the world of athletic and casual footwear.

Zhang also cofounded the Hong Kong-listed shoemaker Symphony Holdings. In 2014, Zhang purchased about US$56 million worth of assets from Symphony Holdings, but he has since sold his stake and is no longer with the company. 

#460. Tang Xiao'ou (China)

Net worth: US$5.7 billion

Tang Xiao’ou is the founder of SenseTime, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company focused on developing deep learning AI technologies such as facial recognition and image recognition. Founded in 2014, the firm derives almost half of its revenue from the Chinese government as investors from the US were barred from buying shares in its Hong Kong IPO in December.

Today, Tang is considered one of the most influential AI scientists contributing to the development of the revolutionary technology. Currently, he is a professor at the Department of Information Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He also serves as the associate director of the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Science.

#490. Chris Xu (China)

Net worth: $5.4 billion

Chris Xu is an American-born Chinese who founded the famous fashion e-commerce site Shein based in Nanjing, China in 2008. Shein is an online shopping platform that offers trendy apparels at low prices, producing over 6,000 new items daily. The Chinese retailer gained traction on TikTok and has quickly become one of Gen Z’s favourite fashion brands. 

Earlier this week, the company was given a valuation of US$100 billion up from its initial valuation of US$1.25 billion, making the fashion retailer more valuable than well-known fashion brands H&M and Zara combined. 

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#637. Falguni Nayar (India)

Net worth: US$4.5 billion

Falguni Nayar is India’s richest female self-made billionaire. Nayar is the founder and chief executive officer of the lifestyle retail brand Nykaa. The business mogul made a drastic career change at the age of 49 which saw her leave her investment banking career to launch Nykaa almost a decade ago. Not long after her company went public in November last year, Nayar’s net worth soared to US$6.5 billion. She became the wealthiest female Indian billionaire and entered the list of the top 20 wealthiest people in India.

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#801. Song Chi-hyung (South Korea)

Net worth: US$3.7 billion

Song Chi-hyung is currently the founder and chairman of Dunamu, the operator of South Korea’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange. In September 2021, Dunamu raised US$85 million at a valuation of US$8.7 billion. It is backed up by many major investment firms such as Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm Altos Ventures and Kakao Ventures. Before cofounding Dunamu with Kim Hyoung-nyon, Song worked at the South Korean mobile payment company Danal.

#984. Karthik Sarma (India)

Net worth: US$3.1 billion

Karthik Sarma is currently the Managing Partner at SRS Investment Management, a hedge fund he founded in 2006. In 2021, SRS Investment Management saw their investment in the rental car company Avis surge by more than 35 percent after the company announced it was adding electric vehicles to its rental services. The 47 year-old hedge fund manager has been a director at the investment firm since May 2020.

Before founding SRS Investment Management, Sarma joined McKinsey & Company where he worked as a consultant. He then went on to work at Chase Coleman’s Tiger Global as the Managing Director for five years, which he joined within a few months of its initial launch in 2001. 

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#1292. Nikil Viswanathan (US)

Net worth: US$2.4 billion

Nikil Viswanathan is one of the cofounders of Alchemy, a software company powering thousands of blockchain-based Web3 companies. As of February 2022, Alchemy was valued by private investors at US$10.2 billion. Viswanathan owns an estimated 26 per cent stake in the company he founded in 2020. 

The Stanford graduate first found success in the tech scene with the meet-up app Down to Lunch, which briefly topped the US Apple App Store rankings after its launch. The planning app was very popular among college students as it facilitated get-togethers in a simple and straightforward manner. 

#1341. Liang Rubo (China)

Net worth: US$2.3 billion

Liang Rubo is the CEO of the Chinese internet giant, ByteDance, which owns the popular social media platform TikTok. Liang co-founded the app with his college roommate Zhang Yiming, who stepped down as CEO of the social media company last year. Liang leads the company in the development front, working on several of its apps such as Douyin, Lark, and news app Jinri Toutiao.

Before his appointment as CEO, Liang served as the chief technology officer of ByteDance. Since 2019, he has also led the company as the global head of human resources. Major shareholders of the social media platform include Sequoia Capital China, Coatue, General Atlantic, KKR, SIG, and Softbank.

#1818. Kie Chie Wong (Malaysia)

Net worth: US$1.6 billion

Malaysian investor Kie Chie Wong is the director of WTK Holdings Bhd. Wong gets the bulk of his wealth from a minority stake in iron ore upstart Fortescue Metals Group, which saw a surge in its stock price. A report by Financial Review Rich List revealed that Wong’s 93,045,000 shares grossed $164 million in dividends in 2020 alone. He reportedly paid US$1 million for his original holding in the company.

Wong, who has lived in Australia since the 1980s, reportedly hails from a Sarawak timber-milling family in Malaysia. He was part of a Malaysian consortium which bought an Australian realtor in 1988. The magnate recently purchased a farm south of Sydney with his wife, Ann Pin Lim.

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#2190. Koon Poh Ming (Malaysia)

Net worth: US$1.3 billion

Koon Poh Ming is the executive vice chairman of aluminium company Press Metal, a venture he started with his four brothers, Poh Tat, Poh Weng, Poh Kong and Poh Keong. During a recession in the mid 1980s, the brothers pooled together US$50,000 to start the aluminium-extruding company. Today, what had first started out as a local business has become Southeast Asia’s largest integrated aluminium producer.

#2448. Pongsak Viddayakorn (Thailand)

Net worth: US$1.1 billion

Pongsak Viddayakorn is the founder of private investment group Principal Capital and hospital operator Bangkok Dusit Medical Services. The latter's soaring valuation saw Viddayakorn’s net worth climb an exponential 37 per cent to US$870 million.

The Thai healthcare mogul sold his Bangkok Dusit Medical Services shares to build a property portfolio through Principal Capital in 2012. In 2017, Principal Capital ventured into the healthcare industry with the acquisition of four hospitals in the northern province of Thailand. In 2020, Viddayakorn's son, Satit Viddayakorn, acquired a stake in the Bumrungrad Hospital for close to US$600 million. The company hopes to expand its healthcare network to 20 hospitals by 2023.

Earlier in his career, Viddayakorn served as chairman of companies like Bangkok Health Insurance, Siem Reap Land Investment, Phnom Penh Medical Services, SR Property Investment and The Private Hospital Association. Viddayakorn graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received a doctorate from Mahidol University. 

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