Millennium Post

Communist China’s super-rich enjoy record growth

The total assets of the super-rich soared to 31 trillion yuan (over $5 trillion), 10 times the GDP of Norway and 20 times that of the Philippines. 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 ($81.35 million) passed 17,000. It is the largest number in the 15 years since Hurun launched its first China wealth report. “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,” Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of Hurun Report was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post. 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. The report found that most of the ultra-rich were from the manufacturing sector and owned listed companies, entrepreneurs, property developers or professional investors.

However, China’s state-owned banks, some of which climbed up to the top ranks of the global banking network, are feeling the pinch of the slowdown of the world’s second largest economy as their profits grew at weakest rate in years.

Profit growth for China’s five biggest banks slowed to single digits last year, with net profit in Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) up 8 per cent, its first single-digit profit rise after an expansion of 14.52 per cent in 2013. Net profit of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), which is among the largest banks in the world, fell from 10.17 per cent in 2013 to 5.07 per cent last year. China Construction Bank, listed as one of the top ten banks in the world, registered a profit 6.1 per cent against 11.11 per cent in 2013.

Profits of other banks like Bank of China, as well as Bank of Communications dropped to 8.22 per cent and 5.72 per cent in 2014, respectively from 12.35 per cent and 6.82 per cent registered in 2013, the Money Weekly reported.

Combined net profits of the five banks reached 927.09 billion yuan ($151.24 billion) in 2014, close to 60 per cent of that made by the entire industry. Meanwhile, bad loans were on the rise, with non-performing loans (NPL) at the five banks all exceeding one per cent, which will remain a challenge for the industry in 2015, the report said. NPL ratio of China’s entire banking industry rose to 1.64 per cent as of the end of last year as economic growth slowed and some local governments and companies grappled with debt problems.

Chinese economy slowed down to 7.4 per cent last year, the slowest in 24 years with projections to go down below seven per cent this year and the next.

The magazine cited Song Xianping, head of risk control with ABC, as saying an average NPL ratio of between two and three per cent would be an industry trend as the Chinese economy enters a “new normal” of slower growth.
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