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AP Market round-up: Asia’s rich just keep getting richer

An inaugural Asia Pacific wealth management survey from Merrill Lynch and Capgemini highlights the growing concentration of the region’s wealth in the hands of the already rich, deemed high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).

The survey covered the key wealth management markets of China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, where the number of HNWIs grew 7.3% in 2005. To highlight the extent that the region’s wealth is increasingly becoming concentrated into the hands of the richest, the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) – those with assets in excess of $30 million – grew by 12.1% over the same period.

Merrill Lynch and Capgemini estimate that total wealth held by HNWIs and UHNWIs reached $7.6 trillion by 2005 and that it will grow to $10.6 trillion by 2010.

The report gives cause for thought: governments of the more developed Asian markets, including Hong Kong and Singapore, are increasingly concerned with the growing gap between rich and poor.

At least in their case, the wealth appears to have stayed on their shores. The report claims Singapore has attracted some 18,000 HNWIs of Indonesian origin, holding assets worth $87 billion. That is a staggering sum and, if accurate, is more than 10% of Indonesia’s entire GDP at purchasing power parity, capital the country can ill afford to lose.

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