Tuesday, 17 November 2015 18:06

Where’s the money?

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There are 1,826 dollar billionaires in the world. Vietnam has one — Mr Pham Nhat Vuong who ranks 1,118 in the billionaire list. He is the founder and chairman of Vingroup. Approved Index, a UK-based business-networking group, crunched the numbers from Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list in 2015 to find the most billionaire-dense nations.

Large populations dilute the effect, so the U.S., despite having the largest overall number of billionaires (536), only ranks 13th on the list.


11) Norway


Number of billionaires: 10

Population: 5,176,998

Population per one billionaire: 517,700


Norway is rich in natural resources and has a vibrant private sector as well as being the world’s third-largest natural gas exporter and seventh-largest oil exporter. It is also home to Stein Erik Hagen, who founded discount supermarket Rimi with his father in the 1970s. He and his family are worth $US4.5 billion (£2.8 billion).


10) Israel


Number of billionaires: 17

Population: 8,358,100

Population per one billionaire: 491,653


Israel is big on cut diamonds, high-tech equipment and pharmaceuticals. Perhaps the most famous Israeli billionaire right now is bachelor Teddy Sagi, who made his money setting up gambling software maker Playtech. He has a net worth of $US3.5 billion (£2.2 billion).


9) Sweden


Number of billionaires: 23

Population: 9,784,445

Population per one billionaire: 425,411


Sweden is famed for its high standard of living as well as its mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. It has 23 billionaires as of this year. These include Swedish videogame programmer and designer Markus Alexej Persson, founder of the Mojang company which made the insanely popular Minecraft.


8) Iceland


Number of billionaires: 1

Population: 329,740

Population per one billionaire: 329,740


Iceland used to have six billionaires on its shores before the financial crisis and now it is down to one — investor Thor Bjorgolfsson. However, due to Iceland’s small population, Iceland still stays in the top ten. Bjöggi, as he is colloquially known in Iceland, is worth around $US1.28 billion (£817 million).


7) Singapore


Number of billionaires: 19

Population: 5,469,700

Population per one billionaire: 287,879


Singapore is one of the world’s wealthiest countries with a highly developed and successful free-market economy. It is largely corruption-free. The island nation boasts 19 billionaires, including property tycoons Robert and Philip Ng with a net worth of $US8.6 billion (£5.5 billion).


6) Switzerland


Number of billionaires: 29

Population: 8,256,000

Population per one billionaire: 284,690


Switzerland is the perfect breeding ground for billionaires with its highly skilled labour force and low corporate tax rates. It has low unemployment and high per-capita income. The richest man in Switzerland is Ernesto Bertarelli, who inherited pharmaceutical giant Serono. In 2007, he sold it to Merck for $US9 billion (£5.7 billion).


5) Cyprus


Number of billionaires: 5

Population: 858,000

Population per one billionaire: 171,600


Cyprus’s economy tanked following the eurozone sovereign debt crisis of 2010 and has struggled to grow again. The Billionaires list records five billionaires on the island, although self-made billionaire Christos Lazari, worth $US2.2 billion (£1.4 billion), died in July.


4) Hong Kong


Number of billionaires: 55

Population: 7,264,100

Population per one billionaire: 132,075


Hong Kong is the financial gateway into mainland China, has a free-market economy and since it is dependent on international trade and finance, has become one of the most prominent financial centres in the world. Its richest resident is Li Ka-Shing, the self-made billionaire worth $US33.5 billion (£22.3 billion).


3) Guernsey


Number of billionaires: 1

Population: 65,150

Population per one billionaire: 65,150


It’s surprising to see Guernsey in third spot, but it has a tiny population and its sole billionaire Stephen Lansdown is enough. Lansdown is worth $US2.1 billion (£1.3 billion) after co-founding British financial services firm, Hargreaves Lansdown.


2) St Kitts and Nevis


Number of billionaires: 1

Population: 55,000

Population per one billionaire: 55,000


This two-island country in the West Indies was among the first places in the Caribbean to be settled by Europeans. Its sole billionaire is the elusive Jacky Xu, who is originally from China. He founded the Trendy International Group of Guangzhou in China.


1) Monaco


Number of billionaires: 3

Population: 37,800

Population per one billionaire: 12,600


Monaco is the playground of the super-rich due to its tax-haven status and small, exclusive population who enjoy a seriously high standard of living. It’s perhaps surprising that it counts only three billionaires as residents. Its richest person is fine-art dealer David Nahmad with a net worth of $US1.85 billion (£1.2 billion).


Shane can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last modified on Thursday, 19 November 2015 13:47
Shane Dillon

Shane has written the Word business column since 2009. He left his home town of Brisbane, Australia in 2004 and has worked in several Asian countries as well as Guatemala and Ukraine. He is interested in economics and the subtleties of doing business in Asia. Shane works in the insurance industry and can be contacted at shanedillon@pacificcross.com


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