China’s Millionaires Leap Past 1 Million on Growth, Savings

China has more than a million millionaires as economic growth, savings and a strengthening currency helped swell their ranks by 262,000 last year, according to a Boston Consulting Group survey.

Millionaire households jumped 31 percent in 2010 from the previous year to 1.11 million, the BCG Global Wealth Survey released yesterday showed.

China’s number of millionaire households ranks it third, behind the 5.22 million in the U.S. and Japan’s 1.53 million, according to BCG. Still, wealth in privately held businesses and property wasn’t accounted for in the survey, thereby missing a major chunk of economic assets in the mainland.

“This grossly underestimates true overall wealth in China,” said Tjun Tang, a partner at BCG in Hong Kong and one of the report’s authors. The survey also excludes works of art, fine wines and yachts, a growing class of assets among China’s well-heeled.

China ranks eighth globally for households with assets worth more than $100 million, with 393, according to the survey.

The Asian nation’s affluent class only holds about 5 percent of its wealth offshore, said Tang, and international wealth management companies are constrained by the number of products they can offer inside China.

Highest Concentration

The number of millionaire households globally increased to about 12.5 million, the Boston-based firm said in a study released today. Singapore millionaires rose by almost 33 percent after jumping about 40 percent a year earlier.

Singapore had the highest concentration of millionaires, accounting for 15.5 percent of the population, the study showed, followed by Switzerland with 9.9 percent, Qatar with 8.9 percent and Hong Kong with 8.7 percent.

Hong Kong had the 10th most millionaire households in the world, with 200,000, as well as 223 households worth more than $100 million.

The Chinese city saw 10,000 newly minted millionaire households last year. In 2005 it had 120,000 millionaires, BCG said.

Wealth in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 11.4 percent from 2010 to 2015, raising its share of global wealth from 18 percent to 23 percent. Global wealth is projected to increase at about half that pace from $121.8 trillion to $162 trillion in the same period, according to the report.

India, which has 190,000 millionaires, ahead of 12th ranked Canada, with 180,000, is expected to see wealth grow 14 percent annually over the next five years, while China will see 18 percent annual growth.

The measures of wealth are converted to U.S. dollars using the exchange rate at the end of each year, boosting the value of Asian wealth as the region’s currencies strengthened in 2010.

China ranks first among 22 emerging Asian economies as the country most likely to maintain steady and rapid growth over the next five years, according to the Bloomberg Economic Momentum Index for Developing Asia.

To contact the reporter on the story: Frederik Balfour in Hong Kong at fbalfour@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Longid at flongid@bloomberg.net

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