Millionaires' row shrinks

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 12:00am

Pity the poor millionaires. According to a joint 'World Wealth' report by Merrill Lynch and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, their wealth dropped in Asia last year from 21 per cent to 18.2 per cent of the world total.

The abysmal performance of Asian stocks was the greatest contributor to the nine percentage point fall in the wealth of high net-worth individuals, or those with more than US$1 million in non-real estate assets.

'A large proportion [of the decline] was a result of stock market crashes because during that period we saw Japan hitting new lows,' said Andrew Chan, executive director of the Asia-Pacific international private client group at Merrill Lynch.

'The same thing happened in the Southeast Asian markets . . . you saw a lot of people with investments in the stock market suddenly being poorer by the day, literally.'

The dismal 26 per cent slide in the Nikkei-225 Index outweighed any wealth creation from the strong economic performances of South Korea and China, the report said.

However, Asia's Rockefellers should not be put on the endangered list just yet - from 2000 to 2005, wealth in the region is estimated to grow from US$4.9 trillion to $7.3 trillion, with the bulk of this in North Asia.