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Thursday, 8 May 2008

S'pore to be 'City of Millionaires': Barclays survey

SINGAPORE will have the highest concentration of wealthy households in the world within a decade as economic expansion and the growth of its financial services industry draw investors, said Barclays Plc.

Almost 41 per cent, or 436,000, of Singapore's households will have assets of at least $1 million by 2017, compared with 39 per cent in Hong Kong and 28 per cent in Switzerland, according to a survey by Barclays Wealth, the bank's wealth management unit.

Singapore was second in 2007 with 23 per cent, while Hong Kong had 26 per cent, the report said.

Singapore's US$132 billion economy grew last quarter at the fastest pace since 2003 as tax breaks and efforts to draw banks and manufacturers to expand or set up new businesses in the city offset slowing demand for electronics. Growth is expected to moderate this year because of a US slowdown, Bloomberg news reported on Wednesday.

'It's a little premature to assume that growth will continue in a straight line, but the underlying trend remains one where Asian countries are generating plenty of economic activity and employment opportunities,' said Song Seng-Wun, an economist at CIMB-GK Securities Pte. in Singapore.

Economic growth elsewhere in Asia is also boosting wealth creation. China, the world?s fastest-growing major economy, is estimated to become the third-wealthiest nation in the world by 2017 by total net worth, lagging behind only the US and Japan, while India will be ranked eighth, according to Barclays Wealth.

'Unprecedented Wealth Creation'
'Not only are we seeing unprecedented wealth creation in Asia, but the structure of the region's economies have fundamentally changed,' Didier von Daeniken, chief executive officer of Barclays Wealth in Asia, said in a press release.

'Education, technology and globalization are driving wealth creation, resulting in a shift of economic power to the East.'

Singapore households with more than $1 million held about $672 billion in assets last year, and will grow to US$1.6 trillion by 2017, according to Barclays Wealth.

The survey takes into account assets such as cash, shares, bonds and property.

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