Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Asia’s wealthy population overtake Europe: report


Asia had more millionaires than Europe for the first time last year and is fast closing in on North America for the top spot, a report released yesterday said.

Last year, the Asia-Pacific region was home to 3.3 million people worth US$1 million or more, excluding their homes, an increase of roughly 10 percent from the year before, according to an annual report by Merrill Lynch’s wealth management division and consultancy Capgemini.

Asia’s growth outpaced Europe, which grew about 6 percent to 3.1 million high net-worth individuals and puts it within reach of North America, which rose 8.6 percent to 3.4 million.

The report’s findings illustrate how Asia’s economies, powered by China and India, are growing much more quickly than developed countries and, in the process, minting scores of new millionaires and billionaires.

“It is entirely conceivable that Asia can overtake North America in the near future,” said Wilson So, a managing director at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management. “I would be surprised if it didn’t.”

The US, Japan and Germany still account for just more than half the world’s 10.9 million wealthy, while China is in fourth place with 535,000. Australia has moved up one notch to ninth place, while India has cracked the top 12 for the first time.

While last year was the first time that Asia has overtaken Europe in terms of absolute numbers of wealthy people, it is the second year that Asia’s combined wealth was bigger than Europe’s.

The world’s wealthy were worth a total of US$42.7 trillion last year. Asia’s share of that wealth amounted to US$10.8 trillion, putting it in second place for the second year in a row, just behind North America’s US$11.6 trillion.

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