Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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# 281 Tsai Eng-Meng $6.38B

Random fact: Oldest son Tsai Shao-Chung joined family business after high school.

Overview

Tsai is chairman of Want Want China Holdings, the world's largest maker of rice crackers. The Shanghai-based manufacturer produces snack food, beverages and packing materials, and reported revenue of 20.7 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in a year by March 31, 2019. Tsai also owns China Times Group, a closely held news business.

As of :
Last change -$167M ( -2.6%)
YTD change +$925M ( +17.0%)
Industry Food & Beverage
Biggest asset 151 HK Equity
Citizenship Taiwan
Age 62
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Tsai Eng-Meng's net worth of $6.38B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

0%
of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Tsai's wealth is derived from a 51 percent stake in publicly traded Want Want China. His shares are held through two BVI holding companies Norwares Overseas and Hot-Kid Holdings, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing dated May 28, 2019.

The billionaire bought China Times Media Group in 2008 as personal investment. It’s reported at the time that the sale was completed for about NT$20.4 billion ($621 million) and financed with a bank loan. The business is valued at the purchase price because the media group is closely-held and hasn't disclosed any financial information.

The value of his cash investments is based on dividends, insider transactions, taxes, market performance and charitable giving.

Everett Chu, Want Want China's chief financial officer, confirmed Tsai's stake in the company and declined to comment further on the net worth calculation.

Biography

Birthdate: 1/30/1957
Family: Married, 10 children
Education: Chinese Culture University

Tsai Eng-Meng was born into a wealthy family in Taipei in 1957. At age 19, instead of attending college, he went to work for I Lan Foods Industrial, a canned food exporter owned by his father in northern Taiwan. Tsai, who didn't understand accounting, began managing the company in 1979, posting a loss in his first year.

After two years of lobbying, Tsai signed an agreement with Japan's Iwatsuka Confectionery to use its technology to make rice crackers in Taiwan in 1983. Rice crackers, called Senbei in Japanese, is a casual snack that often goes with green tea for serving house guests. The cakes turned I Lan Foods from a money loser into one of the largest snack food makers in Taiwan. Tsai registered the trademark "Want Want," mimicking the sound of a dog barking, in 1989. A portrait of Tsai's Boston terrier hangs in the company's Shanghai headquarters.

He's a native speaker of Hokkien, a language that originates from China's Fujian province and is used among overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. His ability to speak Mandarin Chinese, the official dialect of China and Taiwan, is relatively poor.

Want Want is among the first Taiwanese businesses to invest in China. It built a factory in Hunan province in 1992, the hometown of China's late leader Mao Zedong, where costs are lower than coastal provinces. The company had 103 factories in China at the end of 2011.

Want Want sold shares to the public in 1996 and began trading in Singapore. The company delisted from the city state in 2007 and sold shares in Hong Kong the year after. Tsai holds 48 percent of the business.

The tycoon said in a rare interview with the Washington Post in February 2012 that the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 wasn't a "massacre." He later said the comment was "taken out of context."

Milestones
  • 1962 I Lan Foods Industrial is founded in northern Taiwan.
  • 1979 Takes over from his father to run I Lan foods.
  • 1989 Company registers "Want Want" trademark in China.
  • 1992 Want Want builds first China factory in Changsha, Hunan.
  • 1996 Sells shares in a Singapore initial public offering.
  • 2007 Delists from the Singapore exchange.
  • 2008 Goes public again by selling shares in Hong Kong.
  • 2008 Acquires Taipei-based media group China Times.
  • 2012 Comments about Tiananmen incident cause controversy in Taiwan.
  • 2012 Buys part of Next Media's Taiwan assets for undisclosed price.