Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The report on high-net worth individuals (HNWIs) -- defined as anyone with investible assets of at least one million US dollars -- was issued by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and consultancy firm Capgemini.More millionaires are expected to be minted in a region that has produced some of the world's richest people, including Hong Kong's Li Ka-shing and India's Mukesh Ambani, as Asia leads the recovery from the global recession.
The world's population of HNWIs returned to 10 million in 2009 after the global slump, with the largest concentrations still found in the United States, Japan and Germany.
"The Asia-Pacific HNWI population rose 25.8 percent overall to three million, catching up with Europe for the first time, after falling 14.2 percent in 2008," the World Wealth Report said.
They saw their total wealth grow nearly a third to 9.7 trillion dollars, more than erasing 2008 losses and surpassing the 9.5 trillion dollars held by their European counterparts, it said.
The super-rich, or those with investible assets of 30 million dollars or more, represented only 0.9 percent of the global HNWI population, but accounted for more than a third of the wealth, the report said.
These "ultra-HNWI's" raised their collective wealth by 21.5 percent, after seeing an aggregate decline of 24 percent in 2008.
North America had the highest concentration of mega-rich individuals with over 36,000, compared with Europe's 20,700 and 19,600 from the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2009, eight of the 10 economies with the highest growth in HNWI population were from the Asia-Pacific region, led by Hong Kong where their numbers doubled as the stock exchange climbed 73.5 percent, the report said.
The other Asia-Pacific economies on the global top 10 growth list were India, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, in that order.
Israel, the third highest gainer globally, and Norway, which was in ninth place, were the only countries outside the region on the top 10 growth list.
Ong Yeng Fang, a managing director at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, told reporters the number of Asia-Pacific millionaires was likely to rise further, given expectations for robust economic growth.
In a separate study by Forbes Magazine, China has passed India in having the most billionaires in Asia, but India remains home to the region's wealthiest individuals.
Ten of Asia's top 25 billionaires are from India, led by oil and gas tycoon Ambani with an estimated wealth of 29 billion dollars and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal with 28.7 billion dollars.
Hong Kong, led by rags-to-riches tycoon Li Ka-shing, has five billionaires in the Forbes top 25 list -- the same number as Japan.
Mainland China has only one -- beverage king Zong Qinghou, who is worth seven billion dollars. But overall, it leads Asia with 64 billionaires.
The World Wealth Report said the rich have nearly recouped the losses of 2008 and total assets are now approaching levels last seen in 2007, before a US housing crisis triggered the global slump.
"The rebound has been, and will continue to be, driven by emerging markets -- especially India and China, as well as Brazil," said Bertrand Lavayssiere, managing director for global financial services at Capgemini.
Following massive losses during the 2008-2009 crisis, the world's rich have become more cautious and are taking a more hands-on role in their investments, the report said.
"However, their investment decisions are driven much more from emotional than intellectual factors," said Foong Lai Kiun, Asia-Pacific director for financial services at Capgemini.
The world's rich favoured luxury collectibles like private jets, supercars and yachts as "passion investments", she said.