HK's millionaires soar by 104% in 2009, Merrill Lynch says

21:25, June 23, 2010      

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The world's millionaires increased by 17.1 percent year-on-year in 2009, with Hong Kong's millionaire population up 104 percent, which is the fastest among the globe, according to a report released by Merrill Lynch &Co. and Capgemini Wednesday in Hong Kong.

The number of millionaires, defined by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini's 14th annual World Wealth Report as High Net Wealth Individuals (HNWIs), or those having investable assets of 1 million U.S. dollars or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables, rose to 10 million in 2009 and their financial wealth increased, posting a gain of 18.9 percent to 39 trillion U.S. dollars.

Led by Hong Kong and India, Asia-Pacific's HNWI population rebounded in 2009 to reach 3 million, matching that of Europe's HNWI population for the very first time, said the report. Asia- Pacific wealth also surged 30.9 percent to 9.7 trillion U.S. dollars, more than erasing 2008 losses and surpassing the 9.5 trillion in wealth held by Europe's HNWIs.

In Hong Kong, market capitalization increased 74 percent in 2009 after falling approximately 50 percent the previous year. Market capitalization is a powerful driver of wealth in Hong Kong, due to its very high market-cap-to-nominal-GDP ratio of almost 11 times, compared with the global average of 0.8 times, according to the report.

"The Asian story continues to lead the global economic recovery and this has benefited many of the markets in the region in terms of both growth and wealth creation," said Francis Liu, Market Managing Director for Greater China at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.

He said in the case of Hong Kong, the strong rebound in HNWI numbers is highly correlated to the strong recovery in stock market prices and property prices.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, the trend was similar. In India, the HNWI population grew 51 percent in 2009, while the number of HNWIs in the Chinese mainland rose 31 percent 477,000.

Moving forward, Asia-Pacific and BRIC nations, which contain Brazil, Russia, India and China, will likely be the powerhouses of HNWI growth, said the report.

Source: Xinhua


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