Singapore—Bloomberg reports that Li Xiting, the richest man in Singapore, has gotten even richer this year amidst a tanking economy worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic. His wealth has grown due to a rise in demand for ventilators, which as many as five percent of coronavirus patients may end up needing.
Shares for Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co, Mr Li’s company, have risen by 40 percent as more and more people around the world are needing these devices and hospitals are experiencing a shortage.
According to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr Li, the company’s chairman, now has an additional $3.5 billion to his net worth just for this year. His fortune is now worth $12.5 billion as of Thursday (April 2).
This makes Mr Li one of the top five gainers around the globe. He gained even more wealth than Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is up by $3.4 billion.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates, in contrast, is down by $15.3 billion.
The critical shortage of ventilators has sent manufacturers into overdrive to meet the demand. Even automobile companies in the US, General Motors and Ford Motor Co, are now manufacturing the breathing machines, with thousands of units to be rolled out by this month.
Still, there are doubts that there will be enough ventilators.
According to Li Wenmei, the board secretary of Mindray, the demand all over the world is at least 10 times of what is currently in stock in hospitals. New York, the state heaviest hit by the coronavirus pandemic in the US, may be less than a week from running out of ventilators, Bloomberg quotes Governor Andrew Cuomo as saying.
Even until March, Mindray did not have the needed approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to produce their machines, but an emergency rule allowed the company to begin production for the US market.
Aside from Mindray, which is able to produce 3,000 units each month, Beijing Aeonmed Co received US FDA authorization to enter the US market as well.
Another Chinese maker of ventilators, Jiangsu Yuyue Medical Equipment & Supply Co, has seen its shares go up by 91 percent, and its market value is now at $5.5 billion.
Mindray reported that Italy, which has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus, ordered nearly 10,000 pieces of equipment including ventilators and monitors. It has operations in 30 countries and has 17 subsidiaries in China and manufactures health monitoring systems, ventilators, defibrillators, anesthesia machines, and infusion systems.
The company has a direct sales team in America, and has partnered with such prestigious medical institutions as the Mayo Clinic, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Cleveland Clinic for a number of years now.
Li Xiting’s surge in wealth is in stark comparison to his fellow billionaires in Asia. Hong Kong’s wealthiest man, Li Ka-shing, lost $7.1 billion just this year due to the recession because of the pandemic as well as widespread protests last year. —/TISG
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