Asia’s Millionaires Increase as Economic Growth Adds Wealth

Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

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Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg

A Volkswagen AG Lamborghini sports car travels past pedestrians waiting at an intersection along Orchard Road in Singapore.

More people in Asia became millionaires last year as the region’s economic growth and entrepreneurship helped generate affluence, according to a report by RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini SA.

The number of individuals in Asia-Pacific with investable assets of $1 million to $5 million climbed 1.9 percent to 3.08 million in 2011, according to the report released in Singapore and Hong Kong today. Their total wealth increased 1.5 percent.

The report underscores the region’s growing importance as a wealth management center as the world’s rich struggle to maintain their fortunes amid Europe’s debt crisis and a slowing global economy. Asia-Pacific millionaires outnumbered those in North America for the first time last year, according to the World Wealth Report published by RBC and Capgemini in June.

Asia’s richest people weren’t unscathed by the European crisis that has roiled markets worldwide. The population of ultra-high net worth individuals -- those with investable assets of at least $30 million -- in Asia-Pacific fell 3.9 percent to 21,700, the report showed. Their wealth dropped 5.2 percent.

The number of people in the region with investable assets of $5 million to $30 million declined 1.6 percent to 266,000, and their wealth slid 1.9 percent, according to the report, which focuses on 10 Asian markets.

Assets Decline

While the number of millionaires in Asia rose last year, their assets declined 1.1 percent to $10.7 trillion, led by a 20 percent drop in Hong Kong and by India’s 18 percent slide, the report showed.

Slumping stocks drove the erosion of wealth in Hong Kong, Alex Khein, chief operating officer at BlueBay Asset Management, a London-based unit of RBC, told reporters in the Chinese city. The benchmark Hang Seng Index (HSI) tumbled 20 percent in 2011. It has rebounded about 13 percent this year.

“Asia-Pacific will likely continue to face challenges such as high inflation and global factors such as the weak economy in Europe,” Jean Lassignardie, corporate vice president at Capgemini, said in a statement. “However, the diverse nature of Asia-Pacific exports and economies means the outlook for the region as a whole remains strong.”

Economic growth in developing East Asia and the Pacific will slow to 7.6 percent this year from 8.3 percent in 2011, the World Bank forecast in June. The U.S. will expand 2.1 percent and the euro area will contract 0.3 percent, the bank said.

RBC Wealth Management, a unit of Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada (RY), the country’s biggest lender, plans to manage $25 billion in Asia in the next four years, said Barend Janssens, head of the company’s emerging markets division. That’s more than double the $10 billion it manages in the region now.

The World Wealth Report showed in June that the number of individuals in Asia-Pacific with at least $1 million in investable assets jumped 1.6 percent last year to 3.37 million, helped by increases in China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. So-called high net-worth individuals in North America dropped 1.1 percent to 3.35 million.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sanat Vallikappen in Singapore at vallikappen@bloomberg.net; Stephanie Tong in Hong Kong at stong17@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chitra Somayaji at csomayaji@bloomberg.net

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