Number of Asian Billionaires Surged in 2009

The number of billionaires in India doubled last year to 52. The country's richest person is petrochemicals magnate Mukesh Ambani, who lives in a 27-story building in Mumbai. It is the world's most expensive mansion, costing some $2 billion in construction alone. According to Forbes, Ambani's net worth in 2009 was $32 billion, up 54 percent from a year earlier, ranking seventh on the business magazine's list of the world's top billionaires.

The number of Chinese billionaires more than tripled from 24 in 2008 to 79 in 2009. Wang Chuanfu, chairman of electric carmaker BYD, topped the Chinese billionaires list with $5.8 billion in assets. Buoyed by the world's second richest man Warren Buffet's investment, Wang's net worth soared by more than 600 percent from $880 million in 2008.

Office buildings, including CapitaLand and HSBC Holdings, stand in the central business district of Singapore. /Bloomberg Office buildings, including CapitaLand and HSBC Holdings, stand in the central business district of Singapore. /Bloomberg

Indonesia also saw a steep rise in the net worth of its super-rich. The combined wealth of the 40 richest people in the country totaled $42 billion last year, double the $21 billion of 2008. Meanwhile, Singapore has 8.5 millionaires per 100 people, the world's highest ratio. The country is a favorite new home not just for wealthy Chinese and Indians, but also Westerners.

The world is witnessing a new trend: the shifting of economic might from the West to the East. Boston Consulting Group predicts that the combined assets of millionaires in the Asia Pacific region, excluding Japan, will increase at an average of 9.5 percent per year from US$11.5 trillion in 2008 to $18.1 trillion in 2013. In a report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, Asia Pacific is forecast to overtake North America as the world's richest region by 2013.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 04, 2010 10:56 KST