JD.com founder Liu’s wealth surges to $6.1 bn on IPO


Richard Liu, chief executive officer of JD.com Inc, China’s second-largest e-commerce site, ended the day of the company’s debut with a net worth of $6.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

JD.com’s initial public offering was the biggest ever for a Chinese internet company in the US, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Beijing-based company sells products such as home appliances, books and clothes to more than 47 million customers. It uses a business model similar to billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Amazon.com, managing inventory and selling directly to consumers.

The founder, also known as Liu Qiangdong, holds about 556 million shares after selling 13.9 million shares in the IPO.

“Liu comes from a normal background but is a very aggressive person,” Li Yujie, a Hong Kong-based analyst at RHB Research Institute Sdn, said in a phone interview. “JD.com stands to benefit from its cooperation with Tencent, especially now that Tencent has injected all its e-commerce business and will help it develop.”

No Amazon

Liu, 41, founded the business in 2004 after distributing magneto-optical products in Beijing, according to the company’s prospectus. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the People’s University of China in Beijing, as well as an executive MBA degree from the China Europe International Business School.

“I neither wish to become Amazon nor Dangdang,” Liu said in a speech at the People’s University last month, referring to another Chinese e-commerce website.

“Copying business models of any other companies is doomed to fail. JD is always JD.”

The idea of steering shoppers online came after the SARS pandemic hit parts of China in 2003, when Liu was forced to close down his magneto-optical stores.

Chinese IPOs

U.S. investors snapped up almost $1 billion in Chinese IPOs last year, a fivefold increase from 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg show. JD.com said on its website it’s China’s largest online direct sales company in terms of transaction volume last year, with a 46.5 percent share of the market in the country.

JD.com’s filing came after competitor Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. filed this month for a U.S. IPO in a sale that could raise about $20 billion.

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