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Cher Wang, Chen richest in Taiwan

The China Post news staff -- Cher Wang and Wenchi Chen of smart phone maker HTC are the wealthiest Taiwanese, according to the latest press release announcing Forbes Asia Taiwan's list of 40 richest people in the country. It is the first time the couple has been ranked No. 1 on the list. They have a net worth of US$8.8 billion, up from US$2.1 billion a year ago.

Wang chairs HTC, which is winning the bet it took in 2006 to produce its own brand of phones at the risk of losing some of its contract manufacturing clients. Shares in their firm have nearly tripled in the past year to help them rise from No. 11 last year.

Terry Gou Falls to No. 5

Fellow technology tycoon Terry Gou slipped from the top position to No. 5 with a net worth of US$5.6 billion. He lost US$300 million of his net worth in the past year. Two other listees who saw their net wealth decline are Tsai Ming-Kai of Mediatek (No. 28; US$1.35 billion) and Tsai Chi Jui of Pou Chen Corporation (No. 31; US$1.28 billion).

This year, the collective wealth of the 40 richest reached a record US$92.7 billion on the back of a booming economy and stock market. This is up from US$70 billion last year, outpacing the previous record of US$77 billion set in 2008.

Climbing up one spot to No. 2 is Tsai Wan Tsai, who was ranked No. 3 previously. He has a fortune of US$7 billion compared with US$5.3 billion a year ago. The founder of Fubon Financial is the uncle of Cathay Financial's T.Y. Tsai, Tsai Cheng-Da and Tsai Hong-Tu, who are also on the list. T.Y. is at No. 12 with a net worth of US$2.25 billion, while his brothers Cheng-Da and Hong-Tu are tied at No. 20 with US$1.55 billion each.

In third place is Tsai Eng-Meng of Want Want with US$6.1 billion, up from US$4.9 billion last year. Ranked No. 4 previously, the snack food tycoon is also in the media, hotel and insurance businesses.

New Tycoons on the List

There are two new names on this list this year. One of them is Michael Chiang at No. 14 with US$2 billion. The 58-year old debuts on the list after the public listing of his company TPK Holdings, a supplier of touch screens for Apple's iPhones and iPads.

The other new entry is the billionaire family of Hsu Chen at No. 25 with US$1.41 billion. He is co-founder and chairman of Singapore-listed Hsu Fu Chi International, which produces cookies and sweets in China.

Three billionaire families returned to this year's list after their absence last year. Among them is Allen Horng at No. 32 with US$1.26 billion. His Catcher Technology is yet another Taiwanese company that has benefited from red-hot Apple's mobile-gadget boom. Shares in his firm which supplies computer cases to Apple, Dell and others have soared 138 percent in the past year.

The other two are Tsai Yung-Lung of Gem-Year Industrial at No. 33 with US$1.25 billion, and Steven Pan of Formosa International Hotels at No. 36 with a net worth of US$1.1 billion.

The minimum needed to make the list this year was US$930 million, up from US$675 million a year ago. Among those who did not make the cut in 2011 is Rudy Ma, whose Yuanta Securities did not keep pace with the others' growth.

Taiwan is booming. Its economy surged 10.5 percent last year, and its stock market jumped 22 percent since last June amid optimism that the global economic recovery is on track.

The Taiwan list was compiled using shareholding and financial information from the individuals, stock exchanges and analysts. Net worths are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on May 13.

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Cher Wang, Chen richest in Taiwan
This undated picture shows Premier Wu Den-yih, right, and Cher Wang, chairwoman of smart phone maker HTC, officiating at a groundbreaking ceremony for the company's headquarters in ...

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