LONDON • The world's billionaires saw their collective wealth rise 19 per cent to US$8.9 trillion (S$12.3 trillion) last year, led by growth in China, which minted two new billionaires every week, according to a new report.
A total of 199 billionaires were created over the year globally, with nearly a third gaining their wealth through some form of innovation, while the rest did so by scaling up businesses in the Asia-Pacific region, UBS and consultancy PwC said.
Nowhere was this more visible than China, they said in the 2018 edition of their Billionaires Insights Report, with China's billionaires rising to 373 from 318 with joint wealth of US$1.12 trillion, up 39 per cent.
"China's billionaire entre-preneurs are leading their country's economic transformation, and by extension that of the rest of Asia," said the report.
"Over little more than 10 years, they have created some of the world's largest companies, raised living standards and made fortunes at an unprecedented pace."
UBS, whose wealth management arm manages around US$2.5 trillion in assets, and PwC said there were already more billionaires in Asia than in the United States and they were on course to be wealthier than their US peers within three years.
China produced 50 so-called "unicorns" - companies with a valuation of at least US$1 billion - from 2016 to this year, slightly behind the 62 produced in the US, the report said.