Despite his humble beginnings, Wang Wei, the 46-year-old owner of SF Express, became the country’s third richest man on Tuesday, after his company made its debut on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
Now worth an estimated $26bn, the chief executive of China’s largest parcel delivery service saw shares in his company surge 10 percent for a fourth straight session earlier this week.
Wei’s personal net worth increased by over $2bn in a single day.
With a $13,000 loan from his father, a Russian interpreter for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Wei founded SF Express in 1993.
He currently owns a 68 percent stake in the company, which has been referred to as China’s Fedex.
“When S.F. started delivering packages in the 1990s, it was still an illegal business called ‘black delivery,” he said in an interview with the official People’s Daily newspaper in 2011.
SF Express has come a long way since then.
The company’s total market cap jumped to ¥279.5bn ($406.2bn) yesterday, making it the most valuable stock on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the world’s ninth-largest stock exchange by market capitalisation.
Across China’s three stock exchanges, SF Express is now one of the 25 biggest companies in the country by market cap.
SF Express struck a $6.6bn deal last year with Maanshan Dingtai Rare Earth & New Materials, one of the biggest manufacturers of steel wires in China, allowing the delivery company to fast track its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Wei was one of five other Chinese billionaires in the courier sector who debuted their companies on the NYSE back in October.
Between them, they have amassed a combined wealth of about $47bn, partly driven by the boom in the Chinese e-commerce sector led by Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group.
“Not only the past decade, but the next few years will also be a golden age for Chinese couriers’ development,” said John Song, a Shanghai-based director of the logistics and transportation practice in China at consultancy Deloitte. “There is huge potential in the development of these Chinese couriers.”