As much of the world grapples with slow growth and high inflation in 2022, Hurun Research Institute’s annual Global 500 list shows the damage that has been inflicted upon the world’s top companies in the past year. 

The top 500 companies lost $11 trillion — a 19% drop in valuation from 2021 and equivalent to all of the value they created last year. Energy companies enjoyed strong growth, while retail and e-commerce were the hardest hit. Companies from four countries accounted for 80% of the loss: US firms lost $5 trillion, Chinese firms $2.9 trillion, and German and Japanese businesses lost $600 billion each. 

Overall, 35 Chinese companies made the list in 2022, 12 fewer than the previous year. Sixteen companies dropped out of the list, including some notable leaders in their sectors such as short video platform Kuaishou, pharmaceutical company WuXi Biologics, electric vehicle maker Nio, ride-hailing giant Didi, and video content platform Bilibili. 

Four Chinese companies made onto the list for the first time. They are: Shein, Webank, JD Technology, and Tongwei.

Here’s what you need to know about the four new entrants: 

1. Shein

Ranking: #355

Fast fashion retailer Shein broke into the Hurun Global 500 list for the first time with a valuation of $40 billion, ranking at number 355.

Formed by Chinese entrepreneur Chris Xu in 2008 as an online wedding dresses platform, the business expanded to women’s fashion and took on the brand name Shein four years later. Today, it has become one of the biggest names in fast fashion.

The e-commerce site was valued at approximately $15 billion in 2020, according to figures from PitchBook Data Inc. cited in the Wall Street Journal; the US newspaper also stated that Shein’s valuation has risen nearly sevenfold in two years, hitting $100 billion this April. Shein’s total sales are expected to grow by 50% to $30 billion in 2022, the Wall Street Journal cited a source close to the company as saying in early November.

Various factors contributed to Shein’s rapid rise: low prices, a constant flow of new products per day, and popularity among TikTok users.

Shein is able to maintain lower prices than rivals Zara and H&M as it sells most of its products directly to consumers. The firm produces 700 to 1,000 new products in small batches per day, with mass production carried out only when an item sees high sales volume.

The fast fashion platform has received 7.5 billion views on TikTok with the hashtag #Sheinhaul, well ahead of the 4.2 billion views for #Zarahaul.

2. WeBank

Ranking: #433

As the first private internet bank in China, WeBank has been valued at $33 billion according to the Hurun Global 500 list.

Co-founded by Tencent in 2014, WeBank has attracted a significant number of users in a short period of time, relying on the tech giant’s messaging super apps WeChat and QQ. The digital bank posted more than 320 million active users by the end of 2021.

Weilidai and Weiyedai are the two main services the Shenzhen-based firm profits from; the former targets micro loans to individuals and the latter provides loans to small businesses. WeBank also offers auto loans.

According to Webank’s 2021 annual report, it achieved a revenue of RMB 26.99 billion that year, with net interest income accounting for 66.6% of total revenue. The internet bank recorded a net profit of RMB 6.88 billion in 2021, up 38.9% year-on-year; for comparison, Alibaba-backed MYBank posted RMB 2.09 billion net profit in 2021.

3. JD Technology

Ranking: #483

As the fintech arm of e-commerce retailer JD, JD Technology was reorganized in January 2021 on the basis of the former JD Digits, JD Cloud, and artificial intelligence units. The company mainly provides digital solutions to financial institutions and enterprises as well as local governments.

JD Digits filed for IPO on Shanghai’s Star Market in September 2020, with a valuation of up to RMB 200 billion. However, the firm later withdrew its IPO application in the middle of the process after Ant Group’s abruptly terminated IPO brought regulatory uncertainty to the country’s fintech sector.

The main source of revenue for JD Digits is its financial businesses. According to the prospectus filed by the firm at the time, it recorded a total revenue of RMB 10.33 billion in the first half of 2020, of which the revenue of two credit products – JD Jintiao and JD Baitiao – was RMB 2.64 billion and RMB 1.79 billion respectively, accounting for a combined 43% of the total revenue.

Reuters reported last month that the JD fintech unit is seeking Chinese regulatory approval for a new attempt at a Hong Kong listing as soon as the end of this year, adding that the size of the IPO is likely to be smaller than the previously suggested $2 billion.

4. Tongwei Co. Ltd

Ranking: #483

Based in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, Tongwei is mainly engaged in the production and sale of agricultural feed. The company is also the world’s largest polysilicon supplier.

In the first three quarters of 2022, Tongwei achieved a net profit of RMB 21.73 billion, 1.65 times that of the last full year. The figures saw Tongwei better LONGi Green Energy Technology, the leader in the solar photovoltaic industry. LONGi posted RMB 10.98 billion in net profit in the January to September period, compared with a net profit of RMB 9.09 billion for the full year of 2021.

Tongwei attributed its rapid growth in the past two years to the continued strong market demand for high-purity crystalline silicon products, which has driven up market prices significantly.

The price of silicon materials has increased by 315% in the past three years, from RMB 73/kg in early 2020 to RMB 303/kg in the third quarter of 2022, according to Chinese financial and stock information provider Eastmoney.

Meanwhile, the company’s solar cell unit – which makes the core component for photovoltaic power generation – saw significant year-on-year growth in production and sales, enabling it to maintain strong market competitiveness.

Cheyenne Dong

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, blockchain, and Web3. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]technode.com.