The wealth of Taiwan’s 40 richest people dropped 29 percent this year as a result of the world financial crisis, Forbes magazine said on Thursday.
The value of assets held by the top 40 fell to US$55 billion as of June 19 from US$77 billion a year earlier, according to Forbes. Brothers Tsai Hong-tu (蔡宏圖) and Tsai Chen-yu (蔡鎮宇), who control Cathay Financial Holdings Co (國泰金控), the nation’s largest listed financial services company, were among those whose wealth declined.
“Burdened with toxic assets such as Icelandic government debt, structured notes tied to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and even Bernie Madoff funds, Cathay reported some of the worst results in its 47-year history,” Forbes said.
Taiwan’s economy contracted by a record 10.24 percent in the first quarter as the global recession eroded demand for the country’s exports.
Losses incurred by Taiwan’s richest have been moderated by a 45 percent increase in the nation’s benchmark TAIEX index this year, fueled by the prospect that closer ties with China will spur economic recovery.
The stock market “has been enough to salvage a lot of wealth for the nation’s richest, but not enough to cover their overall losses for the year,” Forbes senior editor Russell Flannery wrote in the report.
The Tsai Brothers topped this year’s list with a combined wealth of US$5.2 billion, according to Forbes, which didn’t specify the size of the decline in their worth.
Five people did increase their wealth, three of whom had ties to China.
Food tycoon Tsai Eng-meng’s (蔡衍明) worth rose by US$1 billion to a total US$3.6 billion, because of the strong performance of his Want Want China Holdings Ltd (旺旺控股), the largest maker of rice cakes and flavored milk in China, Forbes said.
Quanta Computer Inc (廣達) chairman Barry Lam (林百里), with a fortune of US$2.15 billion, was one of five technology entrepreneurs to return to the list, according to Forbes.