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Asia-Pacific's billionaire population tumbled last year


The Asia-Pacific region's billionaires suffered major losses last year, with their overall wealth and total numbers falling at the greatest rate globally.

The region saw its billionaire population fall by 13% and their total wealth tumble by 8% in 2018, according to data firm Wealth-X's 2019 Billionaire Census.

That translates to a loss of 109 billionaires in Asia-Pacific and a $212 billion drop in their total combined wealth. Those falls were led by the region's four most populous countries for billionaires: China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore.

The findings mark a reversal of fortunes from 2017, when the region minted more ultra-wealthy individuals than any other.

Weaker performances for stock markets, the ongoing U.S.-China tariff dispute, and emerging market volatility on the back of a strong U.S. dollar were largely responsible for the losses, which hit billionaire numbers globally.

According to Wealth-X, global billionaire wealth fell 7% in 2018 and the overall billionaire population dropped 5.4%, marking just the second such falls in billionaire numbers since the 2008 financial crisis.

North America was the only region to record growth, with its billionaire population rising 3%. U.S. billionaires especially benefited from higher interest rates and the Trump administration's tax reform package, the report noted.

Wealth-X's top 15 billionaire countries 2018.

Despite this year's losses, the Asia-Pacific region remained home to four of the top 15 countries based on their billionaire populations.

China continued to boast the world's second-largest billionaire pool after the U.S. With 285 billionaires enjoying a total wealth of $996 billion, the world's second-largest economy ranked well above third-place Germany and accounted for 12% of billionaires globally.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region of China, ranked as the seventh most populous country for billionaires. With 87 billionaires, it also ranked as the second most populous billionaire city after New York City, which boasted 105 billionaires.

India fell four notches this year to emerge in eighth place with 82 billionaires. Meanwhile, Singapore retained 15th position among countries despite its billionaire population falling to 39 individuals. The city-state's 11% decline in billionaires was the biggest percentage decline among all leading municipalities.

Certain Asian cities were less impacted by the regional slump, however. Hangzhou, China, home to billionaire Jack Ma's Alibaba, and Tokyo, Japan both saw their billionaire populations drop by just one individual, but they saw no change in their ranking (14th and 15th place, respectively).

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