Billionaire Zong Qinghou, founder of beverage giant Wahaha Group, passes away

By Minh Hieu   February 26, 2024 | 02:18 am PT
Billionaire Zong Qinghou, founder of beverage giant Wahaha Group, passes away
Zong Qinghou at an event hosted by Wahaha in Hangzhou in July 2021. Photo by AFP
Zong Qinghou, the founder of China’s largest beverage producer Wahaha, and formerly the country's wealthiest individual, has died at the age of 79.

Wahaha's social media account announced that Zong had been receiving hospital treatment for an unspecified illness before he passed away on Sunday, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

Zong, who grew up in poverty and did not complete high school, only entered the business world when he was in his forties in 1987.

He began his rags-to-riches journey by selling snacks in a grocer at a local school canteen in his hometown of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

His business quickly grew, and in 1989, Zong founded and led the Hangzhou Wahaha Nutritional Foods Factory.

This business evolved into the Hangzhou Wahaha Group two years later when it acquired a struggling local canned food factory.

Zong then established a vast network of thousands of distributors, facilitating the company's product sales nationwide, according to Forbes.

In 2022, the beverage giant recorded revenues of 51.2 billion yuan ($7.1 billion).

Zong was considered by Forbes to be China’s richest individual in 2010 and 2012 with net worths of US$8 billion and $10 billion, respectively.

As of last year, his net worth was $5.9 billion, placing him at the 53rd on Forbes’ China wealth ranking.

Zong's daughter, Zong Fuli, currently serves as the CEO and vice chairman of the company.

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