Last updated: 14:15 / Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Forbes Insights

In an emerging market it is "easier" to amass a billion dollar fortune than to build a major global company

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In an emerging market  it is "easier" to amass a billion dollar fortune than to build a major global company

"Emerging Markets: Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East—Joining the Global Ranks of Wealth Creators," the third in a series of wealth reports from Forbes Insights and Société Générale Private Banking, is based on an analysis of 250 ultra high net worth individuals in 22 countries in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East, with an average fortune of $2.8 billion.

“Emerging Markets: Africa, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East—Joining the Global Ranks of Wealth Creators”

The individual fortunes that have been created there, in some cases in just over two decades, are breathtaking. They are not yet up to the levels of the largest fortunes in mature markets, such as the United States and Western Europe, but they are catching up fast considering the short time span since their inception. For example, the average size of the fortunes of the 20 richest individuals are: $24.3 billion in the United States, $20.1 billion in Western Europe, $10.1 billion in Russia, $7.6 billion in the Middle East, $3.2 billion in Central Europe and $2.3 billion in Africa.

The report concludes that it is, in fact, "easier" for an individual in an emerging market to amass a fortune worth a billion dollars than to build a major global company. According to the report, 6% of the world's 2,000 largest public companies, as listed on the Forbes Global 2000, are owned or co-owned by billionaires from Africa, Central Europe or the Middle East. But as many as 14% of the world's billionaires on the Forbes billionaires list come from Africa, Central Europe or the Middle East.

Among other key findings from the report:

The openness of the wealthy about their fortunes is lower in emerging markets studied for this report than in mature markets. On a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being not open at all and 10 being very transparent, the Forbes Insights Wealth Panel—composed of editors of Forbes international editions and Forbes wealth analysts—assigned the emerging markets analyzed for this report a score of 4.2, and mature markets a score of 7.3.

The openness of the wealthy about their fortunes correlates directly with the attitudes of their countrymen toward them. The more open the wealthy are about their fortunes, the more their countrymen accept them, and vice versa. In terms of social attitudes towards great wealth, the gap between the emerging and mature markets is just two points, with the Forbes Wealth Panel scoring mature markets at 6.3, and emerging markets at 4.1.

The wealthy in emerging markets analyzed for this report like to display their riches slightly less than their counterparts in mature markets (North America and Western Europe). In terms of wealth display, the Forbes Insights Wealth Panel awarded mature markets a 6, and emerging markets a 5.3, on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being very discreet about wealth and 10 being total display. There are, however, vast regional differences among emerging markets. The Forbes Insights Wealth Panel ranked the wealthy in Africa and Central Europe as the most understated, with Russia and the Middle East the most open in their wealth display.

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