Malaysia’s richest grow in wealth and numbers

A customer, reflected in a mirror, chooses a luxury handbag at a Milan Station outlet in Hong Kong September 2, 2013. – Reuters pic
A customer, reflected in a mirror, chooses a luxury handbag at a Milan Station outlet in Hong Kong September 2, 2013. – Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — Sixty more individuals have joined the ranks of Malaysia’s ultra-rich, according to a new report from private-wealth consulting firm Wealth-X and the Swiss-based bank UBS, making the country home to 840 multi-millionaires worth at least RM98 million each.

The World Ultra Wealth Report 2013 noted that six countries in the region – Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam – saw their population of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI), which it defines as those with assets worth US$30 million (RM98 million) and above, grow by leaps and bound while the wealthy in giant economic like China and Brazil shrank.

The additions to Malaysia’s population of ultra high net worth individuals represented a 7.7-per cent from last year.

The combined wealth of the ultra-rich in Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy has also grown to US$105 billion, according to the report, or US$5 billion more than a year ago.

The region’s two richest men are also from here: Tan Sri Robert Kuok, 89, with a net worth of US$15.8 billion was born in Johor Baru while telecommunications tycoon T. Ananda Krishnan, 75, worth US$8.5 billion was born in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Despite the two, however, Malaysia’s pool of ultra-rich was still eclipsed by neighbouring Singapore and Indonesia.

The Lion City now has 1,355 people with a combined wealth of US$160 billion while Indonesia had the region’s second-largest number of elite rich at 865 people with a combined wealth of US$130 billion.

Thailand trailed Malaysia in the ultra rich but boasted the biggest growth with its ultra-high net worth population up 15.2 per cent to 720 individuals this year.

Those behind the UHNWI report put the continued accumulation of wealth in Southeast Asia down to a strong domestic consumption and a growing middle class, which is keeping the rich in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines afloat even as their markets perform relatively poorly, international business daily, Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

Despite optimism in Southeast Asia, the overall growth of wealth in Asia was hobbled by China’s economic slowdown.

The Asian dragon saw its population of ultra rich dip 5.1 per cent from last year with a total of 10,675 people with a combined wealth of US$1.5 trillion.

“Asia’s star is still rising, although the region’s growth rate was dampened by a contraction in the Chinese economy,” Wealth-X and UBS said in their report, launched recently in Singapore.

The ultra rich in Europe and North America were making a comeback, with the wealthy population in those two regions growing faster than Asia in the past year, the report said.

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