CHINA'S heavy machinery, forage and auto industries have nurtured the top three largest family businesses listed on the mainland's stock exchanges, a Forbes list said yesterday.

The Liang Wengen family, founders of Sany Group, the Li Yonghao family, which owns the New Hope Liuhe Co, and Wang Chuanfu, head of BYD, partly owned by Warren Buffet, ranked as the three largest listed family businesses in terms of annual revenue.

They are respectively the second, 13th and 36th richest family or individual on China's mainland according to the 2012 World's Billionaires List compiled by Forbes in March this year.

On the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Huang Guangyu's Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings, Qin Zhiwei's China Metal Recycling (Holdings) Limited, and Yang Guoqiang's Country Garden Holdings Company Limited are the three largest listed companies owned by mainland families.

"The allocation of family businesses shows that machinery industries play an important role in China's private sectors," Forbes' report said yesterday.

"Most mainland family businesses listed in Hong Kong also operate in manufacturing and real estate industries."

Nearly a quarter of mainland listed companies are controlled by families, and such businesses are averagely more profitable than other private firms, Forbes said.

But in general, combined profits of the listed private companies were growing at 33.1 percent annually in the past three years, slower than the 34.8 percent for listed state-owned companies.

More founders of the family businesses are handing over the company to their children, the report said.

Of the 684 family businesses listed on the mainland, more than 40 percent are co-managed by founders and their children. Founders of 45 companies have already stepped down to make way for their children.

The proportion of second-generation business owners increased to 7 percent this year from last year's 4.6 percent, Forbes said.

"For companies partly or totally run by the second generations, net profits and revenue may grow slower while net profit margins are higher," the report said.

"Along with the step up of the second generation, companies are shifting from fast expansion to management improvement."

Family businesses listed in Hong Kong are younger than those listed on the mainland, and only 4.4 percent of the businesses there have been taken over by founders' children, Forbes said.

Partly due to the one-child policy, around 4 percent of founders are involving their in-laws in running the company, the same percentage as for daughters.

More than a fifth of listed family businesses belong to families in China's southern Guangdong Province.

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