“The world has never seen this much wealth created in just one year, much more than expected for a year so badly disrupted by Covid-19,” said Rupert Hoogewerf, chief research and chairman of Hurun Report. “A stock markets boom, driven partly by quantitative easing, and flurry of new listings have minted eight new dollar billionaires a week for the past year.”
The richest individuals on the planet became collectively richer in 2020 while the world was mired in unprecedented economic slumps caused by the worst public health crisis in decades, with the collective wealth of the 0.01 per cent swelling by 32 per cent to US$14.7 trillion. Their ranks also grew to encompass 3,228 known billionaires across 2,402 companies in 68 countries, according to the report.
China had six of the world’s top 10 cities with the highest concentration of billionaires, with Beijing at the top of the ranking for the sixth consecutive year as home to 145 of the ultra rich. Shanghai was in second place with 113 billionaires, edging out New York with 112. Hong Kong was in fifth place with 82 billionaires, behind Shenzhen’s 105.
Zhong Shanshan, founder and chairman of the water bottler Nongfu Spring, was one of the newest members of the multibillionaires’ club, with US$85 billion in estimated wealth in seventh place.
Zhong, based in the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou, was Asia’s new richest person, booting Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries off his spot with US$83 billion, Hurun said.
Ma Huateng, also known as Pony, was the world’s 14th-wealthiest billionaire, with his rank rising by eight spots as the net worth of the founder and chief executive of Tencent Holdings rose 70 per cent to US$74 billion.
The family of Jack Ma, whose Alibaba Group Holding owns this newspaper, fell four notches to 25th spot with their wealth growing 22 per cent to US$55 billion.
Wealth creation was helped by the boom in global equity markets, led by Nasdaq’s 44 per cent increase and a 35 per cent gain in the Shenzhen stock market. India and Japan rose by over 20 per cent, the report said. The US dollar depreciated 7 per cent against the yuan and weakened by 9 per cent against the euro, it added.