Singapore household net worth at record high

Singapore household net worth at record high

Surging Singapore property valuations during this year’s third quarter have sent the net worth of Singaporean households to record levels.

Statistics show that household net worth in Singapore has reached an all-time high of S$1.16 trillion (US$886 billion).

The figures represent a twenty-nine percent increase from early last year; the height of the global financial crisis.

It is also higher than the S$1 trillion (US$7.6 billion) level which Singaporean households reached last year.

The figures, released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as part of their latest annual financial stability review, show that the economic recovery in Singapore continues to be very strong.

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The Citibank Ultima credit card

Citibank Ultima credit card

Citibank Singapore has launched a brand new credit card aimed only at Singapore’s rich.

The new Ultima card is by invitation only and members must have at least $5 million SGD in assets.

The card will replace the old Ultima card which, when introduced in 2003, was offered to clients with a minimum annual salary of $350,000 SGD.

Due to Singapore’s large number of wealthy people (nearly one in ten are millionaires) it is the first country in Asia to offer the new card.

According to this year’s wealth report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini World, the number of Singapore millionaire households grew by a massive thirty-five percent last year alone.

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Mukesh Ambani - Antilla

Antilla - the $1 billion dollar home

Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in India and the third richest man in the world, is celebrating the completion of his new home in Mumbai.

The party will be like no other if his 1 billion USD, twenty-seven storey, one hundred and seventy three metres high home is anything to go by.

The lucky ones to have received a house warming invitation are even able to choose their own means of transport.

To avoid Mumbai’s busy roads Mr Ambani has conveniently provided three helipads.  If guests prefer to travel by car it won’t be a problem finding a parking space in his one hundred and sixty-space car park on the building’s lower levels.

Once inside there are nine lifts to take guests to the upper floors where the party is.

The building, named Antilla after a mythical Island, will be the home to Mr Ambani, his wife and his three children.  With 37,000 square metres of space, there will be plenty of room…even more, in fact, than the palace of Versailles in France!

The house features a health club, gym, dance studio, a swimming pool, ballroom, guestrooms, several themed lounges and a fifty-seat cinema room.

There are a total of six hundred staff on hand to ensure that Mr Ambani and his family are well looked after and the house is well maintained.

The cost of building the house is estimated at 71 million USD but, due to Mumbai’s sky-high land  prices, it is valued at over fifteen times that amount – 1 billion USD.

A local businessman who recently visited Mr Ambani’s home commented; “Antilia is marvellous, I remember seeing a Picasso painting in there, it was one of its kind – stunning.”

According to Forbes magazine Mr Ambani, who owns most of Reliance Industries, is worth 29 billion USD.  He ran the oil, retail and biotechnology conglomerate with his brother Anil until their fall out several years ago.

Ambani has always been considered as the quieter of the two super rich brothers so it has come as quite a surprise to the Indian people that he has made such a public statement of his immense wealth.

“Perhaps he has been stung by his portrayal in the media as an introvert. Maybe he is making the point that he is a tycoon in his own right,” said Hamish McDonald, the author of ‘Ambani and Sons, a history of the business – India’s biggest privately owned company’.

However, friends have leapt to Ambani’s defence in a city where millions live in slums: “He can’t just walk into a cinema and watch a film like you or me,” one associate told the Guardian. “So he has built a house to his requirements like anyone else would. It is a question of convenience and requirements. It is only a family home, just a big one. It’s just another home that someone is living in. It’s no big event.”

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Zhang Yin - China's richest self-made woman - Nine Dragons Paper

Zhang Yin - China's richest woman

According to the Hurun Rich List 2010, China now has many more billionaires than the US.

The Hurun Rich List ranks 1,363 individuals across the globe who have personal wealth of over one hundred and fifty million dollars.

Established as a research institute in 1999 by British accountant Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report Inc. has grown into a leading publishing group in Shanghai, China, targeting China’s entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals.

What’s even more interesting is eleven of the top twenty, self-made female billionaires are also Chinese.

Zhang Yin, founder and chairwoman of Nine Dragons Paper, is top of the list with an estimated fortune of 5.6 billion US dollars.

Nine Dragons Paper, established in 1995, is a recycling company and the largest producer of containerboard products in China.

Wu Yajun, chairwoman of Longfor Properties Co. Ltd., ranks second with a four billion dollar fortune.

Founded in 1994, Longfor properties is a real estate company and has ten real estate developments throughout China.

Chan Laiwa of Fu Wah International, a well-known Hong Kong registered multinational firm, ranked third with 1.1 billion dollars.

In comparison, US talk show host Oprah Winfrey ranked ninth on the list with 2.3 billion dollars in assets. The British author of the Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling, ranked twentieth with assets of one billion dollars.

Rupert Hoogewerf, compiler of the Hurun Rich List commented; “There are 189 US Dollar billionaires that we know of, suggesting that China today has more billionaires than anywhere else in the world, four hundred to five hundred billionaires, surpassing even the U.S.”

This is in contrast to the Forbes Magazine 2010 Billionaire List which counted only sixty-four Chinese billionaires.

“China is clearly the leader for women in business,” Hoogwerf added.

“Not only is 2010 the first time in ten years a property tycoon has not made the top five, but it is also the first year that a construction equipment manufacturer has made more than any property tycoon.”

“It is the modern equivalent of the California gold rush when selling shovels to the gold miners was the guarantee of success,” concluded Rupert Hoogewerf.

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Chinese invest heavily in London property

Chinese invest heavily in London property

Buyers from mainland China and Hong Kong are ignoring the cooling of London’s property market as they continue to invest heavily in luxury real estate in Britain’s capital.

Chinese real estate investors are snapping up luxury property in areas such as London’s fashionable Knightsbridge and Canary Wharfe.

Naomi Minegishi, a twenty one year old Japanese woman, who lived in China for ten years, is a property broker in London.

When she was hired, Naomi had no previous real estate experience and was recruited because of her fluency in Mandarin.  Recently, she has sold four, three-bedroom apartments in a new development for £320,000 ($500,000 USD) per unit – all of them to different Chinese investors.

“Chinese clients are a dream.  They are wealthy, they pay in cash, and they’re looking for good value” she was quoted as saying.

In several up-market areas of London, Chinese investors have already become the main buyers of luxury property; replacing buyers from Russia and the Middle East.

In fact, the Chinese now account for five percent of all London property purchased by foreigners valued between £500,000 ($804,500 USD) and £1 million ($1.6 million USD).

British government figures also show that there were 115,000 Chinese people living in London by 2007, compared to only 80,000 in 2001.

The Chinese, unlike their Russian and Middle Eastern counterparts, are not buying London real estate to live in – most are looking for investments in a market they consider far more stable than their own.

This shift in nationality of buyers has resulted in brokers being eager to hire Mandarin and Cantonese speakers – some property developers have even omitted the number four from their numbering schemes, as it is considered unlucky in Chinese culture.

Mathhew Tack, director at Hampton’s London real estate agency commented; “Most developers in London are including China in their marketing efforts, they’d be silly not to.”

The increase in the number of buyers from Asia is a clear sign of the shift in wealth to Asian countries, including mainland China.

Most countries in Asia have recovered much faster from the global economic downturn as they are free of the huge levels of debt Western households and governments are now facing.

London remains popular due to Britain’s relaxed restrictions on foreigners owning real estate.

Culturally, the Chinese understand the importance of education and many parents hope to send their children to a top university.  Britain is a popular choice as far more foreign students are admitted to British universities than to those in the USA.

Figures from the British Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show the number of Chinese students increased from 867 to 948 last year – a nine percent rise within twelve months.

One mainland Chinese investor who owns property in London said; “I bought a flat for my daughter’s use when she was studying in London and other flats I have rented out or sold.   The U.K. traditionally has a very good legal structure with good law and order.  That, together with the city’s financial institutions and the British people’s love for owning their own homes, makes the property market extremely attractive.”

Real estate brokers who cater for Chinese investors say it is not certain whether and when the demand from China will start to fall although there is no indication that this will happen soon.

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Zong Qinghou - the richest man in China

Zong Qinghou the richest man in China

When Forbes Magazine released its 2010 Billionaire List recently they counted sixty-four Chinese billionaires – up from twenty-eight in 2009.

This man, Zong Quinghou, is China’s richest man – he has an estimated wealth of $7 billion dollars and that makes him the 103rd richest man in the world.

He’s the chairman and founder of Wahaha.    His company make healthy beverages such as herbal teas and energy drinks.

His compatriot Liu Yongxing  Chairman of the East Hope Group is ranked 154th in the world and Suning Appliance founder, Zhang Jindong ranked 176th place with $4.5 billion.

Twenty-five billionaires from Hong Kong also made it onto the list.  The leading Hong-konger was Li Ka-shing ranked 14th in the world with a wealth of $21 billion.

Li Ka-shing is the world’s largest operator of container terminals and the world’s largest health and beauty retailer – I’m not really sure how those two go together – but they clearly do.

This year’s billionaires have a combined total net worth of $3.6 trillion, 50 percent up from $2.4 trillion in 2009. Their average net worth was also up $500 million to $3.5 billion per person.

What’s more, the number of billionaires has soared from 793 last year to 1,011 this year.

“The global economy is recovering, and [this] is reflected in what you see in this year’s list,” said Steve Forbes, chairman, CEO and editor- in-chief of Forbes Magazine.

Among this year’s 97 newcomers, 62 made their debut from Asia, “a region that saw swelling stock markets and several large public offerings during the past year,” Forbes Magazine commented.

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iProperty Expo - Singapore

iProperty Expo - Singapore

Ocean Villas Group will be exhibiting in Singapore later this month at the Expo – International Collection.

The event is the first property exhibition at the newly opened Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre. It is taking place on the 23rd and 24th October from 10am to 8pm.

Ocean Villas Group will be showcasing a range of property from around the world including Thailand, Spain, Australia and Bali.

Sales director Rebecca Smith will also be giving a seminar titled:

“Is the time right to invest in Spanish property?” – Saturday 23rd at 1pm.

You can meet Rebecca and her team at stand N61.

There is also a luxury holiday in Phuket up for grabs – simply visit their stand for your chance to win.

Event: Expo – International Collection
Venue: Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre
Date: 23rd and 24th October
Time: 10am to 8pm

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Asia Pacific Rich List

Asia Pacific Rich List

A recent report by Merrill Lynch shows the number of Australian high net worth individuals (HNWI) has soared by thirty four percent since last year.

The Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini fifth Annual Asia-Pacific Wealth report shows that the number of Australian HNWI has grown by thirty four percent to 173,600 with combined wealth being thirty seven percent higher at 519.4 billion USD.

HNWI are defined as having investable assets of one million USD or more – excluding their primary residence.

The statistics also show that Japan has the largest HNWI population in the Asia Pacific region with China coming in second, with an increase of thirty one percent.

The combined wealth of Asia Pacific’s top three countries, Japan, China and Australia, accounted for seventy six percent of the regions HNWI population in 2009 and seventy percent of its wealth.

Hong Kong and India also recorded a surge in high net worth population and wealth last year.

The report concludes that Australian HNWI were also the largest investors in real estate within the region, with over forty percent of their assets being held in property.

“Australian high net worth individuals turned the risk switch off in 2009, with investors perceiving real estate to be less volatile than many other forms of investment.  This is a trend that has continued through 2010” comments Peter Opie, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s senior vice president of investments.

Luxury collectables such as prestige cars, yachts and jets accounted for thirty two percent of total purchases by Australian investors, followed by art which made up a further twenty six percent.

The number of Asia Pacific HNWI is expected to rise even further as the region catches up with Europe’s wealthy population.  Currently the accrued wealth of HNWI in the region has reached 9.7 trillion USD, surpassing Europe’s combined HNWI wealth of 9.5 trillion USD.

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Ferrari 458 recalled

Ferrari recalls 458 Italia

Ferrari have recently recalled their 458 Italia supercars – but although disappointing for Ferrari fans, it’s not the big story.  The big story is just how many of these cars are owned by Chinese businessmen….

Ferrari were forced to recall these stunning supercars because five of them recently burst into flames – something to do with some combustible glue on the wheel arch.

Two of them were in China.

Ferrari have only made 1,248 of these cars and famous owners include the likes of Eric Clapton and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey.

The car costs in the region of 550,000 USD and it would take the average Chinese worker more than 152 years to earn the money to pay for it.

The Ferrari showroom in Beijing is a popular with passers-by who take photos of the cars on their mobile phones .

But, not everyone just stops and stares….

Ferrari sold 220 of their cars in China in 2009 and are predicting that China will be among their top six markets in the next few years.

The Italian company is not the only ones expecting record growth – Masserati, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Aston Martin all have similar predictions.

“China will overtake Italy as the second-biggest market for Lamborghini behind the United States within three to five years,” Lambo CEO Stephan Winkelmann says.

The Chinese auto market has already passed the US in terms of sales to become the world’s largest auto consumer nation.

There are sixty-four billionaires and a 477,000 millionaires in China – a figure that is growing at a rapid rate.
These wealthy Chinese have such a desire for luxury brands – experts are predicting it won’t be long before the Chinese market overtakes the west not just in terms of sports cars but all luxury goods.

In case you’re wondering what happened to the unlucky Ferrari owners who’s cars went up in smoke – they’ll be replaced free of charge.

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Drayton Bird

Drayton Bird

Ocean Villas Group have appointed Drayton Bird Associates to manage their marketing activities.

Drayton will personally handle the business day-to-day.

Drayton remarked: “This is like coming home, really. I’ve worked with property developers in the past, and have spent a great deal of time in the Asian region, where Ocean Villas are so very strong.

They also have one quality I simply love in a client. They know their business back to front – when very few of their competitors do. I had quite a job thinking how I could help. But I hope I can contribute a few ideas.”

Drayton Bird is a marketing legend. He has worked in 50 countries, with many of the world’s leading brands, including American Express, British Airways, Deutsche Post, Ford, Microsoft, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Philips, The Royal Mail, Unilever and Visa.

He has also worked with big advertising agency groups, business schools and management consultants, including Y & R, JWT, and Leo Burnett, INSEAD, Antai School of Management, Shanghai, Columbia University Business School, New York, McKinsey and A.T. Kearney.

As International Vice-Chairman and Creative Director, he helped Ogilvy & Mather Direct become the world’s largest direct marketing agency network and was elected to the worldwide Ogilvy Group board.

David Ogilvy himself said of him:”Drayton Bird knows more about direct marketing than anyone in the world. His book about it is pure gold.”

Rebecca Smith, sales director for Ocean Villas Group, commented; “This is a real coup for us and the property developers we represent. We have always taken the marketing side of our business very seriously as this is the only way we can get good sales results for our partners.

Apart from being an absolute pleasure to work with, Drayton brings with him 50 years of experience and successful campaigns and let’s face it, who else can you find in any industry that has that much hands-on experience to bring to the table? His stories and anecdotes are priceless in themselves.”

In November 2003 the Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton one of 50 living individuals who have shaped today’s marketing. Campaign named him one of the 50 most important individuals in UK advertising during the previous 25 years – “the only universally acknowledged point of creativity in the direct marketing world”. UK magazine Direct Response said his impact on UK direct marketing was “unlikely to be matched by any other individual.”

He has written five books and well over 1,000 columns for magazines in Europe, the U.S., Australia, India, the UK and Malaysia. Today he works with market-leading U.K. firms like The Prudential, Everest Home Improvements, Hargreaves-Lansdown and a number of others around the world.

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