SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The founder of China’s Tencent, Pony Ma, said he plans to donate 100 million company shares worth more than $2 billion to the firm’s charity foundation.

Ma, one of China’s richest with an estimated fortune of $18.8 billion, said the donation would go towards supporting medical, educational and environmental causes in China.

Hong Kong-listed shares in Tencent, China’s largest social network and online entertainment firm, closed up 0.24 percent at HK$165.70 on Monday, making the donation worth about $2.1 billion.

“After 10 years of exploration and participation in philanthropic activities, I increasingly feel that there is a need for a more longer-term, efficient and organized way to give back to society,” he said in a statement on Monday.

The Tencent Foundation was established in 2007 and cooperates with other charity organizations, the company said.

An October survey of China’s super-rich found China has overtaken the United States as the country with the most billionaires.

Ma’s large donation is unusual in a country where philanthropy has yet to take off.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett made headlines in 2010 when they asked 50 of China’s richest people to a philanthropy dinner. A third turned the invitation down, reportedly due to fears they would be pressed to donate money.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Stephen Coates)


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