Number of billionaires in Taiwan rises to 35: UBS/PwC

China mints two new billionaires a week as Asia is set to overtake US as billionaire hotspot

BILLIONAIRE wealth posted its "greatest ever" increase previous year, rising 19 per cent to US$8.9 trillion, thanks to robust growth in the Asia-Pacific - in particular, China. Nearly one in five came from China, which saw 373 people hold US$1.12 trillion, rising from just 16 in 2006, according to a report on billionaires published by UBS and PwC on Friday.

That means famous billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and fashion tycoon Amancio Ortega all got a lot richer.

China's young entrepreneurs are "set to swell the ranks of the world's billionaires for years to come", the report said.

"Nowhere else has the combination of the world's largest population, supportive government policies, rapidly liberalizing economy, and technology innovation", says John Mathews, head of ultra-high-net worth Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management.

It said 106 people became billionaires but 51 dropped off the list, illustrating the risks of doing business in China.

China's billionaires rose from to 373 from 318 with joint wealth of $1.12 trillion, up 39 percent. Mathews said major anticipated initial public offerings in 2019, including Uber, could reveal more stealth wealth, potentially adding more billionaires to the US's count.

"UBS head of ultra-high-net -worth Ravi Raju said: "(Asia's) remarkable wealth creation presents an enormous opportunity for UBS, which now has a relationship with three out of five billionaires in Asia".

"The past 30 years have seen far greater wealth creation than the Gilded Age", the UBS report notes.

Journalist Khashoggi's body found at Saudi consul general's residence: Turkish leader
The Saudi regime has consistently changed its story on the October 2 death of The Washington Post contributing columnist. The 15 Saudis convened at the consulate about an hour before Khashoggi was due to arrive, the president said.

About 97 percent of Chinese billionaires are self-made, and, at 56 years old on average, they're about a decade younger than their North American counterparts.

The U.S. accounted for US$3.1 trillion in billionaire wealth. Entrepreneurship has played a large role, particularly in China.

U.S. entrepreneurs could play catch-up next year, though.

A significant percentage of the "newly created" billionaires are hardly the self-made men-and they are overwhelmingly men-of popular lore.

To put the growth in context, China had only 16 billionaires in 2006.

In 2017, India's billionaires grew from 19 to 119, while their wealth increased by 36 per cent to US$440 billion.

More than three new billionaires were minted weekly in Asia past year, and China led the way by creating two new billionaires a week, the report found.

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