BANGKOK — The stock market meltdowns in 2018 obliterated $1 trillion of the fortunes of the world's richest individuals, according to a list by wealth compiler Hurun Report.
The report, China's version of the Forbes rich list, showed Chinese billionaires still outnumbered those from any other country as of Jan. 31, at 658. Several newly minted ones amassed wealth through big share offerings, while 212 Chinese tycoons lost their dollar billionaire status.
The U.S. had 584 billionaires, followed by Germany with 117.
The biggest gains in wealth last year came in the areas of technology, media and telecoms, followed by real estate and other investments, manufacturing and retailing.
The wealthiest Chinese was e-commerce giant Alibaba's founder Jack Ma, the world's 22nd most wealthy person, with $39 billion. But Pony Ma Huateng of Internet giant Tencent Holdings, with $38 billion and Xu Jiayin of property developer Evergrande, with $37 billion, were close behind.
Though Chinese and other Asians are steadily gaining in wealth, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos topped the global chart for the second year running, with wealth estimated by the Hurun Global rich list at $147 billion. Bill Gates ranked second with $96 billion and Warren Buffett was third with $88 billion.
Gates' fortune rose $6 billion in 2018, said Hurun Report CEO Rupert Hoogewerf, despite his enthusiasm for philanthropy.
President Donald Trump's wealth fell by $500 million last year, the report said, to $3 billion, or 793rd.
The only Asian among the top 10 richest in the world was Mukesh Ambani of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries, ranked 8th with wealth estimated at $54 billion.
Overall, the report said there are 2,470 billionaires in the world by Hurun's reckoning, down 224 from last year. Their total overall wealth fell by $950 billion from the year before to $9.6 trillion thanks to stock market gyrations and a strong U.S. dollar, it said.
Hurun's CEO Rupert Hoogewerf said he believes the world's billionaires may number over 6,000 people, since many seek to hide the extent of their wealth, especially in the Middle East.