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S'pore's 'ultra rich club' grows slower than rest of Asia
Publication Date : 11-09-2013
Fifty wealthy people in Singapore have been catapulted into the ranks of the ultra rich after property prices kept rising last year.
A new report by Wealth-X and UBS shows that there were 1,355 "ultra-high net worth individuals" in Singapore in July this year, up from 1,305 in July last year.
Ultra-high net worth individuals, as defined by Wealth-X, have total assets of at least US$30 million. This includes their home, savings and the value of stakes in any businesses they might own.
On average, they each had $180 million in assets. Together, the group of ultra wealthy here had a combined wealth of $160 billion this year, up 3.2 per cent from $155 billion last year.
The increase in their wealth came primarily from rising real estate values over the period, said Wealth-X chief executive Mykolas Rambus.
He noted, however, that the growth of wealth in Singapore lags behind the 5.4 per cent rise seen across Asia and the 12.8 per cent surge in Hong Kong. Part of the reason for Singapore's laggard performance is the fact that stock markets became more volatile this year, said Rambus.
"Most of the ultra wealthy are owners of privately held businesses. The value of that asset is compared to public company stocks in the geography in which they are focused," he said.
The values of privately held businesses are often inferred from the values of similar firms on the stock market. So if the values of publicly listed companies in a certain sector suffer a drop in the stock market, the implied value of privately held businesses in that same industry would fall too.
Another likely reason for the relatively smaller rise in the combined US dollar-denominated wealth of Singapore's super rich was the strengthening Singapore dollar.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong saw a strong increase in wealth as it became the largest recipient of assets when mainland Chinese investors began diversifying their portfolios over the past year.
More than half of Singapore's ultra wealthy - 746 people - belong to the lowest wealth tier of this rarefied grouping. Each owns assets of between $30 million and $49 million. Twenty-seven people in Singapore make up the top tier of billionaires, and they have $64 billion in assets in total.
Wealth-X and UBS noted that Singapore has a ratio of billionaires per capita that is three times higher than that of the United States, with one billionaire for every 200,000 residents.
The world's ultra wealthy number an all-time high of 199,235, up 6 per cent from last year, with a combined fortune of $28 trillion - greater than the Indian economy.
Asia's market volatility in the past year caused the growth of its ultra rich to lag behind that of the US and Europe. But Wealth-X and UBS expect Asia to produce more super-rich individuals and wealth than both the US and Europe in the next five years.