New Straits Times

‘First wealth decline in 10 years’

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ZURICH: The world’s richest people became a little less well off last year, according to a report by UBS and PwC, as geopolitic­al turmoil and volatile equity markets reduced the wealth of billionair­es for the first time in a decade.

Billionair­es’ wealth fell by US$388 billion (RM1.603 trillion) globally to US$8.539 trillion, the UBS/PwC Billionair­es Report found, with a particular­ly sharp decline in Greater China — the second-biggest home for billionair­es after the United States — and the Asia-Pacific region more broadly.

Private banks, including the world’s largest wealth manager UBS, have felt the effects of United States-China trade tensions and global political uncertaint­ies, as clients last year shied away from trading and taking on debt in favour of hoarding more cash.

“Billionair­e wealth dipped in 2018 for the first time since 2008 because of geopolitic­s,” said UBS’ head of ultra-high net worth clients Josef Stadler in the report on Friday.

The net worth of China’s richest dropped 12.8 per cent in US dollar terms on the back of tumbling stock markets and a weaker local currency and as growth in the world’s second-largest economy slowed to its lowest level in nearly three decades last year, the report found, knocking dozens off the billionair­es list.

Despite the drop, China continued to produce a new billionair­e every two to 2.5 days, said Stadler.

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