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A few fortunes over US$500 million

ZURICH: The Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) says global wealth could reach US$345 trillion by mid-2020, 38 percent above a mid-2015 level that saw a fall of US$13 trillion over the preceding 12 months due to an appreciating U.S. dollar.

Findings from the CSRI sixth annual wealth report suggest there are 123,800 ultra-high, net worth individuals worldwide, defined as those with a net worth exceeding US$50 million. Of these, 44,900 are worth at least US$100 million and 4,500 have assets above US$500 million.

Global wealthThe U.S. continued to lead the world by mid-2015 with a rise in household wealth of US$4.6 trillion while China posted an increase of US$1.5 trillion. China now has the largest middle class with 109 million compared to the U.S. with 92 million.

CSRI's Markus Stierli noted: "From 2008 onwards, wealth growth has not allowed middle-class numbers to keep pace with population growth in the developing world. Furthermore, the distribution of wealth gains has shifted in favor of those at higher wealth levels. These two factors have combined to produce a decline in the share of middle-class wealth."

Inequality has continued to increase since 2008 with one percent of the global population now owning 50.4 percent of all household wealth, while the per capita figure fell 6.2 percent in the 12 months to US$52,400 - back below the 2013 level.

CSRI calculates a person needs just US$3,210 (after debts) to be in the wealthiest half of the world in 2015. Switzerland continues to rank highest in average wealth although the population saw its per capita fall US$24,800 to US$567,100 in the period.

Michael O'Sullivan, chief investment officer for the UK & EEMEA, Private Banking and Wealth Management at Credit Suisse commented: "The number of dollar millionaires could exceed 49.3 million in 2020, a rise of more than 46.2 percent, with China likely to see the largest percentage increase, and Africa as the next performing region. Overall, emerging markets account for 6.5 percent of millionaires and will see their share rise to 7.4 percent by the end of the decade.

"High-income economies will still account for the bulk of new millionaires, with 14.0 million adults entering this category. Millionaire net wealth is likely to rise by 8.4 percent annually, as more people enter this segment," he added.

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