Chinese water tycoon Zhong Shanshan named Asia’s richest person

Zhong Shanshan has managed to stay out of the public eye for years, having built his fortune from his red-capped bottled water company.

However, following the listings of Nongfu Spring, his water company, in the stock market and Wantai Biological Pharmacy enterprise, a company he has a stake in last year, and his company stock rallies, Zhong’s net worth surged to $85 billion, making him the richest person in Asia and seventh in the world.

Rise to billionaire status

According to a Bloomberg report, the lone wolf billionaire, as he is commonly known in China for lack of public appearances and avoidance of interviews, was also reported as the person with the fastest accumulation of wealth in history.

However, Zhong’s rise to prominence was not smooth, as he dropped out of school at the age of 12 and began working in construction during the cultural revolution of 1966-76. He would go on to work as a bricklayer, carpenter, and a news reporter.

In 1996, he founded Nongfu Spring, a company that he still owns 84 percent in, according to data provided by Mintel, a market research firm. The company’s market share of bottled water in China is over 25 percent.

Zhong’s other company, Wantai, is the biopharma arm of Yangshengtang Group, which was founded three years before his water company. The company specializes in infectious diseases, and during the pandemic, it developed a Covid-19 nasal spray vaccine in collaboration with a prominent university.