A little-known shoemaker has topped Forbes’ list of Taiwan’s richest people with an estimated net worth of US$13.8 billion, edging out the island’s tech tycoons and heirs of family conglomerates.
The 74-year-old Zhang Congyuan, from the western Yunlin County, is the founder of shoe manufacturer and distributor Huali Industrial Group. The family business made a debut on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange earlier this year, catapulting Zhang’s wealth.
With a global headcount of 150,000, Huali is a key supplier for global brands including Nike, Converse, Vans, Puma, UGG, Columbia and Under Armour. It produces about 180 million pairs of shoes a year.
The top spots in the prestigious list have typically been taken by other self-made billionaires and successors of family conglomerates, such as Terry Gou of Hon Hai Precision and brothers Daniel Tsai and Richard Tai, sons of Tsai Wan-tsai, a founder of financial giant Fubon.
Daniel and Richard were listed in the third spot in this year’s list with US$7.9 billion, while Tsai Hong-tu and Tsai Cheng-ta, from the same extended family, retained their second position with a net worth of US$9.2 billion. Once the richest man, Gou slipped to sixth place with a fortune of US$7.1 billion.
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