Wang Jianlin

Wang Jianlin, chairman of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, which last year acquired AMC Entertainment Holdings for $2.6 billion, is China's richest man. (David Pierson / Los Angeles Times / June 1, 2012)

Wang Jianlin, the billionaire Chinese real estate developer who acquired AMC Theatres last year, is China's richest man.

Wang, whose Dalian Wanda Group Co. operates hotels, department stores and cinemas, has a fortune valued at $22 billion, topping the list of wealthiest people in China, according to an annual survey by the Hurun Report.

Dalian Wanda Group last year bought AMC Theatres, the nation's second-largest theater group, for $2.6 billion, creating the world's largest theater chain. AMC, based in Leawood, Kan., announced last month it would seek to raise $400 million from an initial public stock offering, using the proceeds to fund acquisitions and pay down debt.

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Wang told The Times last year that he planned to invest $10 billion in U.S. companies in the next decade, which could include buying department stores, hotel management companies and at least one more cinema chain. Worldwide, Wanda plans to invest as much as $30 billion in the next decade.

Wang had plenty of company on Hurun's list of wealthiest people.

Thanks to a surge in stock prices, soaring real estate values and China's rapidly growing economy, the number of Chinese worth at least $1 billion increased by 64 to 314 this year. There were no billionaires a decade ago, according to the Hurun Report.

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Beverage entrepreneur Zong Qinghou, who was last year's No. 1 richest person, came in second with $18.7 billion, according to the Hurun.

Ma Huateng, founder of online games and entertainment company Tencent Inc., ranked third on the list with a fortune valued at $10.1 billion. He was followed by Wei Jianjun, chairman of Great Wall Motor Co., at $8.4 billion. 

A quarter of the 1,021 people on the Hurun List made their money from real estate, which passed manufacturing to become this year's leading source of wealth. Hurun said 559 of those on the list saw their wealth grow while 252 saw their fortunes shrink.

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