ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, China

Nearly one in five of the world's billionaires are crazy rich Chinese entrepreneurs

A new cohort of Chinese entrepreneurs in Shenzhen will challenge US’s Silicon Valley tech hub.

China’s 373 billionaire entrepreneurs are leading their country’s economic transformation, and by extension that of the rest of Asia, according to UBS and PWC’s Billionaires Insights 2018 report.

More than half, or 58%, of new billionaires worldwide come from Asia Pacific and their net worth grew by 32% to US$2.7t in 2017.

“At this rate, they will be wealthier than their American peers in less than three years,” UBS said.

Also read: Crazy, rich Asians: APAC's ultra-wealthy population is world's richest in 2017

The report noted that of the 814 billionaires in APAC in 2017, 475 were from greater China who had an average wealth of $3.24b and an average age of 55. Of these billionaires, 8% were female.

“Twelve years ago, the world’s most populous country was home to only 16 billionaires. Today, as the ‘Chinese Century’ progresses, they number 373 - nearly one in five of the global total,” UBS said in the report.

Globally, billionaire wealth increased by US$1.4t to US$8.9t in 2017, its greatest absolute growth ever, with China ‘minting’ 2 billionaires a week, the report highlighted. Of the 373 Chinese billionaires, 97% of them were ‘self made’.

Also read: Crazy rich Singaporeans: 1 in 25 of Asia's ultra-wealthy call Singapore home

Whilst the US has the largest concentration of billionaire wealth, its growth has slowed the report observed. In 2017, its growth increased 12% to US$3.1t which was far lower than the average global rate.

Meanwhile, UBS noted how a new cohort of Chinese entrepreneurs is also challenging Silicon Valley as the home for tech innovation amidst rising tensions over trade and intellectual property. Some 89 Chinese entrepreneurs observed became billionaires for the first time in 2017 which is three times more than the 30 produced in US.

China’s entrepreneurs are discovering new markets amongst the country’s 770 million internet users, UBS said. China’s e-commerce and technology businesses boomed in 2017 with Chinese billionaires’ wealth increasing by 39% to US$1.12t.
hina’s ‘new economy’ outspaces the ‘old’, entrepreneurs are building businesses faster,” the report said. “17% of 2017’s new Chinese billionaires founded businesses less than 10 years ago; in the US that number was 7%.”

Also read: Asia beats Europe and America in private banking gains in 2017

Supported by rapid urbanisation and productivity growth, China will continue to produce billionaires as entrepreneurs leverage technology to revolutionize and grow businesses in the country’s services sector such as healthcare and artificial intelligence the report stated.

“Whilst a trade war or any other source of instability would slow the structural transition of China’s economy, it would be unlikely to halt the plans of the country’s young new entrepreneurs,” UBS said. “Urbanisation and the catch-up in productivity due to technology will offer fertile conditions for entrepreneurs to grow and monetise their businesses.”

To a certain extent, the same will hold true for Asia’s populous developing markets such as India and Indonesia, UBS added.

The Billionaires Insights 2018 was conducted over five years and aims to investigate the modern wealth generation’s changes in wealth and needs.

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