Britain lost nearly one-fifth of its dollar billionaires last year, according to a new survey, as the number dropped from 130 to 106.
The latest Wealth X survey said the combined wealth of Britain’s super-rich had dipped from $395bn to $295bn, partly because of the weakness of sterling.
London remained popular as a centre for global financial wealth, with 68 resident billionaires, making it the second most popular city among the super-rich in Europe after Moscow and number four in the world.
Sebastian Dovey, co-founder of Scorpio Partnership, the wealth management consultancy, ascribed the fall in the number of UK billionaires to a number of factors.
“Part of it might be down to the dollar issue — billionaires are victims of currency movements like everyone else,” he said. He also speculated that some families “repositioned themselves” ahead of the vote in June to leave the EU.
Despite the fall in numbers, Mr Dovey said he remained confident in London’s attractiveness, particularly given the recent drop in the value of the pound. “The smart money for a lot of families will be coming this year,” he added.
Globally, there were 2,473 billionaires reported in 2015 — an increase of 6.4 per cent from the year before. Their overall net wealth stood at $7.7tn, up by 5.4 per cent 12 months ago.
Asia leads the world in terms of growth in the number of new billionaires, producing four times as many as the US, the report found.
The proportion of billionaires making their fortunes in investment, finance and banking is also losing ground to the number of people becoming rich through entrepreneurial businesses in Asia.
“It is not very glamorous,” said David Barks, associate research director at Wealth-X, “but the core of the world economy is actually creating more billionaires at the moment.
“The development of China and Asia is happening very quickly, and as entrepreneurs and the industries they associate with start to broaden out, I think you will probably see local financing really broadening, especially to the retail sector.”
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