China now has over 630 billionaires. Photo: iStock
China now has over 630 billionaires. Photo: iStock

Chinese billionaires are virtually everywhere. Their names often come up with astonishing landmarks sold in cities, and rest assured, they are the reason why luxury brands are making big money.

Thanks to the Billionaires Report 2017 by UBS/PwC, we get to know a bit more about the very rich Chinese, and some of their characteristics.

First, every other day there will be a new billionaire created in Asia, more frequent than the United States. The total number of billionaires in Asia now stands at 637, compared to 563 in the US.

Second, and no surprise, China has the highest number of new billionaires. What is surprising though is their young age. The average Chinese billionaire is about 55 years old, compared to 65 years old in Hong Kong.

Almost all of Chinese billionaires are self-made, most notably with new economy gurus like Alibaba Group’s Jack Ma and Tencent’s Pony Ma. And they, combined with other Asian billionaires, grew their wealth by almost a third to US$2 trillion last year.

“This year we have seen not only a return to growth for billionaire wealth, but also a significant shift in its geographic dimensions. Dramatic growth in Asian wealth shows it could overtake the US in just four years,” said Josef Stadler, head of Global Ultra-High-Net-Worth at UBS Wealth Management, commented on the new report.

Love of art spurs jump in private museums

“Through their own passion for arts and sports, they are playing an increasingly important role in enriching the cultural life of communities.”

Out of the top 200 art collectors, 14 of them were from Asia, compared with just one in 2006. Over a third – 72 collectors – of the top 200 art collectors in the world were billionaires.

Private museums are growing in number, especially in Asia, UBS said, noting that many art collectors are setting up private centers to share their collections with the public. It is the same for billionaires who have bought sports clubs, which UBS said helps to make sports clubs more sustainable and deliver associated benefits to the communities they are part of.

Another research report released this week said that Asian family-owned companies delivered better share-price returns, outperforming broader equity markets in every region and sector.

Out of the top 50 companies globally in terms of share returns, 39 were from Asia, representing a total market capitalization of US$424 billion, according to the CS Family 1000 by Credit Suisse Research Institute.

China has the largest number of top family-owned businesses with 167, ahead of 121 in the United States. And Asia has the richest families, accounting for 56% of the top 1,000 family-owned business.

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