Alibaba's Jack Ma: Alipay 'Will Definitely Go Public'
Alibaba Group Holding Executive Chairman Jack Ma in October.Reuters

Jack Ma has overcome Hong Kong property tycoon Li Ka-shing in net worth to become Asia's richest man after the shares in Alibaba Holdings surged to a fresh high.

Ma, a former English teacher, currently has a net worth of $28.6bn (£18.2bn, €23bn), surpassing Li's $28.3bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Li has been holding the top spot since 5 April 2012.

Shares in Alibaba Holdings, the e-commerce company that was founded by Ma, closed up 1.05% at $104.97 on 11 December.

Having completed its $25bn initial public offering in the US, Alibaba currently has a $259bn market capitalisation, larger than Amazon.com Inc and EBay Inc combined.

Ma owns a 6.3% stake in Alibaba that operates Taobao, China's biggest shopping site, and Tmall, a platform for brands and retailers. The sites process $11.3bn orders a year from 231 million active buyers in more than 190 countries.

Meanwhile, Li's fortune has fallen by $1.9bn in 2014, according to Bloomberg. Li controls Hutchison Whampoa, a conglomerate whose interests include energy, ports, retail, infrastructure and mobile networks, and Cheung Kong Holdings, one of the biggest property developers in the world.

While shares of the real estate company gained this year, some of his other investments, including Canadian oil and gas producer Husky Energy have dropped.

According to Forbes, Li has a net worth of $28.9bn, much higher than Ma's $23.2bn.