Billionaire List Shows $1T Hit From '18 Market Meltdown

BANGKOK (AP) — The stock market meltdowns in 2018 obliterated $1 trillion of the fortunes of the world's richest individuals, according to a list by wealth compiler Hurun Report.

The report, China's version of the Forbes rich list, showed Chinese billionaires still outnumbered those from any other country as of Jan. 31, at 658. Several newly minted ones amassed wealth through big share offerings, while 212 Chinese tycoons lost their dollar billionaire status.

The U.S. had 584 billionaires, followed by Germany with 117.

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The biggest gains in wealth last year came in the areas of technology, media and telecoms, followed by real estate and other investments, manufacturing and retailing.

The wealthiest Chinese was e-commerce giant Alibaba's founder Jack Ma, the world's 22nd most wealthy person, with $39 billion. But Pony Ma Huateng of Internet giant Tencent Holdings, with $38 billion and Xu Jiayin of property developer Evergrande, with $37 billion, were close behind.

Though Chinese and other Asians are steadily gaining in wealth, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos topped the global chart for the second year running, with wealth estimated by the Hurun Global rich list at $147 billion. Bill Gates ranked second with $96 billion and Warren Buffett was third with $88 billion.

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Gates' fortune rose $6 billion in 2018, said Hurun Report CEO Rupert Hoogewerf, despite his enthusiasm for philanthropy.

President Donald Trump's wealth fell by $500 million last year, the report said, to $3 billion, or 793rd.

The only Asian among the top 10 richest in the world was Mukesh Ambani of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, ranked 8th with wealth estimated at $54 billion.

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Overall, the report said there are 2,470 billionaires in the world by Hurun's reckoning, down 224 from last year. Their total overall wealth fell by $950 billion from the year before to $9.6 trillion thanks to stock market gyrations and a strong U.S. dollar, it said.

Hurun's CEO Rupert Hoogewerf said he believes the world's billionaires may number over 6,000 people, since many seek to hide the extent of their wealth, especially in the Middle East.

The newly minted Chinese billionaires included Colin Huang Zheng of e-commerce platform Pinduoduo and Chinese Hotpot King Zhang Yong and his wife Shu Ping. Others were Zhang Yiming of ByteDance, an Internet technology "unicorn" valued at $75 billion, and Zhan Ketuan of bitcoin miner Bitmain.

Hurun issued the list jointly with Chinese luxury real estate developer Loong Palace, which markets villas and other properties to the wealthy.

While the apex of the world's wealthiest remains in the U.S. and Europe, such lists show the evolving landscape of economic power.

Beijing was the city with the most billionaires, at 103, followed by New York at 92 and Hong Kong with 69. Of the top 20 cities with the most billionaires, 13 were in Asia.

Last year's market meltdowns took the biggest toll on Japan, where the Tokyo Stock Exchange lost 43 percent of its value in market capitalization. But even Shanghai's exchange lost nearly a quarter of its value and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index plunged almost 16 percent.

According to the list, the company that created the most billionaires was Thailand's CP Group, a conglomerate with operations spanning agriculture, telecoms, retailing and finance, which had added five to its total of 17 as of the end of January.

Next in line was Red Bull, with a dozen numbering its top shareholders, Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz and the 11 children of the company's co-founder, Chaleo Yoovidhya.

Thanks to such big family fortunes, the Thai capital Bangkok ranked 8th in the number of resident billionaires.


By AP Elaine Kurtenbach


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