New Emissary

Asia’s Super-rich

Asia’s millionaires, including one big Facebook fan, are now the richest in the world.

Asia is getting rich…really rich. According to the 14th Annual World Wealth Report by Merrill Lynch-Capgemini released this week, for the first time in modern capitalist history Asia-Pacific’s millionaires have overtaken Europe’s in collective value.

Hong Kong led a global top 10 list of super-rich hot-spots for 2009, which is a ranking that shows regions from around the world with the highest concentrations of sharply rising ‘high-net worth individuals,’ or HNWIs. And Asia dominated in general, with India, Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam also included on the roster.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong also has five names on Forbes magazine’s Asia's top 25 billionaires list, led by Li Ka-shing, a mogul I’ve actually been interested in for awhile now since I saw his name pop up a couple years ago as a big-time investor in Facebook. Back in 2008, Reuters reported that the 82-year-old businessman had $120 million in holdings with the social networking site.

Li, worth an estimated $21 billion, was interviewed by Forbes last month in a rags-to-riches theme piece about his tough youth—having to start working and supporting his family as a teenager when his father passed away from tuberculosis. When I checked his Facebook page again today, I found that he’s stopped responding directly to people—I guess that despite his faith in his investment, Li’s realized that sitting around writing on a Facebook wall isn’t really conducive to his level of business. But his last public post is worthy of note, for its eloquence and Li’s own take on the principles of business:

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

The essential qualities of a good businessman are a strong motivation to serve others, the ability to use reason to make important decisions, and the means/ability to carry out what is necessary to further the goals of the business and best serve its customers: the people.

‘The principles we should build our success upon are honesty, innovation, and education.

‘I can testify that I have been helped along by many—to reach great heights, we must stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us.

Business today is dynamic, benevolent and increasingly woven into the fabric of our society, especially as government becomes less influential on society over time.

On another note, what are people like Li, the super-rich across Asia, spending their millions on? According to the Associated Press, things such as ‘luxury collectibles like private jets, cars and yachts as "passion investments,"’ are the top purchases, while ‘jewellery, gems and watches, art pieces and other items like coins, wine and antiques,’ come in close behind as popular items amongst Asia’s ultra-wealthy.