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Wealthy Chinese take lion's share of Forbes 'Asia Fab 50'

BEIJING -- Chinese companies accounted for more than half of this year's Asia Fab 50, a list compiled by of the 50 best publicly traded companies in the Asia-Pacific region, despite the economic slowdown. In the list, 27 companies were from China.

Technology companies are starting to make their presence felt on the list. Chinese Internet giant Baidu Inc. is new to the list this year. It runs, the country's largest search engine. Billionaire Robin Li founded the company in 2000 and took it public in the United States in 2005 at US$27 a share.

The company's stock price is now more than US$100, but still has 87 percent of analysts rating it as "buy in."

During the second quarter of this year, it reported 70 percent growth in profits, reaching 2.77 billion yuan (US$436 million), benefiting from China's large Internet user base and robust advertising sales.

Wang Zhan, vice president of Baidu, told China Daily that even though he doesn't know the criteria for membership of the list, he believed that the high-tech industry is the most competitive industry in China, especially the Internet field.

"A technology company will die soon if it can't react to the market fast enough," said Wang.

Chinese footwear maker Belle International Holdings also joined the list this year. The company now controls more than 50 percent of China's medium and high-end footwear market.

According to Forbes, Belle Chief Executive Sheng Baijiao is worth nearly US$1 billion.

The company, whose retail network covers more than 30 cities with 16,000 stores, started out making women's shoes, but is now entering the men's footwear and children's footwear markets.

In March, to extend its sales network, it signed a US$140 million deal with Big Step, a Nike and Adidas distributor with 600 retail outlets.

Another sector well presented in the list is real estate. Although China's real estate market has been rocky over the past year, three Chinese property developers still got on the list — returnee China Vanke, newcomer Longfor Properties Co. Ltd. and Poly Real Estate.

Taiwan-based snack maker Tingyi Holding Corp., a perennial Fab 50 company, maintained its place on the list this year.

However, Chinese companies are still not as developed as their counterparts in Western countries in terms of profit and capital turnover rate, said China Business Management Academy researcher Li Jin.

Some Chinese companies such as online games provider NetEase Inc. and agricultural producer New Hope Liuhe Co. Ltd. are expected to join the list in the near future.

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