Shanghai matters most to mega-rich

Shanghai matters most to mega-rich

Shanghai is regarded as the most important city on the Chinese mainland by the world's super-rich, according to a recent report.

Ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI), or those with assets worth at least $30 million, put Shanghai fifth in a global index of important cities after London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, global real estate consultancy Knight Frank said.

This is based on the findings of its 2015 Wealth Report, composed in conjunction with the Bank of China International (BOCI).

Miami was sixth followed by Paris, Dubai, Beijing and Zurich.

Within a decade Beijing will see its rating jump from 10th to sixth, it said. The other two Chinese cities will retain their current rankings, it predicted.

"The rising importance of Chinese cities reflects the influence of China's economic power over the past decade and the decade to come," said Ji Yanxun, head of research and consultancy for Knight Frank China.

China will become the most prolific producer of dollar billionaires in the next decade, with 154 more emerging on the scene, the survey showed.

The report tracks the growing number of super-rich in 108 cities from 97 countries.

Over the next decade, two in three cities with the highest number of new billionaires will be Chinese, according to the report. Shanghai alone will contribute an additional 687 UHNWIs over this period, it added.

The top three cities will be Singapore (1,752), Hong Kong (1,251) and New York (1,013).

"The rise of Chinese UHNWIs will naturally lead to the growing importance of Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing," said Yang Yuechen, a director at Knight Frank Shanghai.

Shanghai is one of the nation's business centres. Its economic development will gain traction from the city's new free trade zone and the soon-to-be-opened Disney theme park, Yang added.

"Shanghai has many multinationals, global recognition, and a new pilot free trade zone that will speed up imports and exports, so it is definitely the most important city on the mainland for businessmen like me," said Xia Guangyao. Xia is the chairman of Wenzhou Jialunte Textile & Finery Co Ltd.

According to the report, the world's mega-rich are increasingly interested in buying property in Shanghai for investment purposes.

Super rich mainlanders now own 4.7 homes around the world on average, slightly above their counterparts in Hong Kong (4.6). When it comes to owning houses, no other country can compete.

"China's nouveau rich used to prefer buying properties in first-tier Chinese cities. But recently there has been a growing trend to buy overseas in developed countries," said Yang.

They prefer cities with large Chinese populations like San Francisco and LA or major international centres like London and New York, she said.

Real estate will continue to play a key role in the portfolios of China's UHNWI over the next decade despite moves by some countries to put a lid on the number of Chinese investors in a bid to stop soaring prices, she added.

Yu Ran in Shanghai contributed to this story.

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