China’s Elite Worth 10 Times the GDP of Norway

The mainland economy may be going through a rough patch but its population of “ultra-rich” is at an all-time high, according to the Shanghai-based wealth-ranking company Hurun Report.

A study of “ultra-high-net-worth” individuals made by Hurun Report and China Minsheng Bank found that, as of the end of September, the number of mainlanders with assets worth at least 500 million yuan (HK$633 million) passed 17,000, the most in the 15 years since Hurun launched its first China wealth report.

Their combined assets were worth 31 trillion yuan, about 10 times the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of Norway, or 20 times that of the Philippines. Individually, they were worth an average 1.82 billion yuan and had an average age of 51.

Most of the mainland’s ultra-rich were entrepreneurs, property investors or stock market players. Among them, 300 had at least 10 billion yuan, 2,900 had two to 10 billion yuan, 5,100 had one to two billion yuan and the rest had 500 million to one billion yuan.

Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of Hurun Report, said there were more ultra-high-net-worth individuals on the mainland this year than ever before, even though the threshold for being recognised as such – 500 million yuan – was also an all-time high. “The number of China’s super rich has hit the record high thanks to the country’s growing economy and the improving stock market,” Hoogewerf told the South China Morning Post.

His company also produces the annual China Rich List, which lists the mainland’s top 1,000-plus richest people.

The aggregated wealth of the “ultra-rich” had increased at a faster rate than the country’s GDP in every year except 2012, found the Hurun-Minsheng report.

Their average assets jumped from three billion yuan in 2008 to 6.4 billion yuan in 2014, while the number of people with more than 10 billion yuan in assets increased from 50 to 176 over the same period.

Most of the ultra-rich were from the manufacturing sector and owned listed companies; 70 per cent of these companies were listed in Shanghai or Shenzhen.

They were bullish about their business environment and half of them thought that in the next three years it would be easier for them to get loans; the macro economy would improve; and entrepreneurs would enjoy a higher social status. But only a third thought they would make greater profits than at present.

Eighty per cent planned to invest abroad and half were already doing so. Some 45 per cent invested in jewellery and jade, while another 29 per cent liked to collect paintings or calligraphy.