Asia billionaires overtake USA for first time led by China

Asia billionaires overtake USA for first time led by China

Asia billionaires overtake USA for first time led by China

The report shows that Asia's wealthy led the way, and the region's billionaires now outnumber their American counterparts for the first time.

"According to the Asian billionaires we interviewed for this report, a combination of geopolitical stability in Greater China, rising Chinese real estate prices, infrastructure spending, the growing middle class and buoyant commodity prices all joined together to boost wealth", the report said.

Last year Asia's billionaire wealth swelled 31% on the year to $1.96 trillion, versus the U.S.'s 15% to $2.75 trillion, and the global average of 17% to $6 trillion.

In the United States, nearly all wealth is now "self-made", said John Mathews, head of private wealth management and ultra high net worth at UBS Americas. Still, the U.S. maintained a higher concentration of billionaire wealth, but Asia top that measure in the next three to four years.

"This year we have seen not only a return to growth for billionaire wealth, but also a significant shift in its geographic dimensions", said Josef Stadler, UBS head of global ultra-high net worth.

Asia's economic expansion saw, on average, a new billionaire created in the region every other day. "Dramatic growth in Asian wealth shows it could overtake the USA in just four years". While only 45% of billionaires were self-made in 1995, the percentage of entrepreneur billionaires has now risen to 80%. USA billionaires now hold around $2.8 trillion in wealth. The increase in billionaire's wealth was twofold of the increase in the MSCI AC World Index.

The surge in wealth by the world's billionaires far surpassed broader economic growth or stock markets.

Europe's number was basically flat at 342 in part due to death and because "entrepreneurial companies can find Europe a hard place to do business due to both the conservative business culture and strict regulations", UBS said. Their total net worth is estimated at US$5.2t ($7.5t) as of October 25.

The major driver of wealth in Asia, according to the report, was technology. Through their own passion for arts and sports, they are playing an increasingly important role in enriching the cultural life of communities'. A Japanese billionaire, Yusaku Maezawa, was the buyer of this year's most expensive artwork at auction, a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat for US$110.5 million ($116.1m).

There were more billionaires in Asia than in the United States for the first time previous year - and half of them were Chinese, according to a report by UBS and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In addition to publishing the annual billionaires report, the Swiss bank has been building out a chief investment office specifically for its wealthiest clients.

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