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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Prosperity in Asia

SINGAPORE, Sept 28, 2010 (AFP) – The ranks of Asia-Pacific millionaires are likely to continue growing faster than those from developed countries as regional economies led by China and India power ahead, a report said Tuesday.

The study on high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) -- defined as anyone with investable assets of at least one million US dollars -- was issued by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and consultancy firm Capgemini.

"Moving forward, China and India will lead the way in the region with economic expansion and HNWI growth likely to keep outpacing more developed economies," the Asia-Pacific Wealth Report said.

It cited figures first released in a global study in June that showed the region's millionaires numbered three million in 2009, up 25.8 percent from the previous year and surpassing that of Europe for the first time.

Also last year, Asia-Pacific millionaires' collective wealth totalled nearly 10 trillion US dollars, which was worth more than the combined riches of their European counterparts for the first time, it said.

"The region holds much promise and is a strategic focus for every wealth management firm with global aspirations," said Wilson So, regional wealth management head at Merrill Lynch.

Australia, China and Japan accounted for 76.1 percent of the region's millionaires and 70 percent of its wealth last year, the report said.

The number of millionaires in Hong Kong rose 104.4 percent in 2009 year on year, the fastest growth in the world.

Their combined wealth also soared 108.9 percent, the biggest jump globally, the report said.

"Wealth accumulation in Hong Kong resumed last year, as its economy and assets benefited from rising investments from China," So said.

In India, the millionaire population and collective wealth rose 51 percent and 54 percent, respectively, in 2009, the report said.

Japan was the single largest HNWI market in the Asia-Pacific last year, accounting for 54.6 percent of the millionaire population and 40.3 percent of the wealth, but the growth was slower compared to other Asian markets.

China remained the second-largest HNWI base in the region, and fourth-largest in the world, with 477,000 millionaires.

"The Asia-Pacific proved to be the most resilient region in the economic crisis," said Bertrand Lavayssière, managing director for global financial services at Capgemini.

"The region's aggregate growth is likely to outpace the world economy in 2010 and 2011, as domestic demand and intra-regional trade help to offset any ongoing weakness in exports to advanced economies."

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