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China’s millionaire machine slows

China’s millionaire machine has slowed, suggesting that the country’s economic weakness is reaching the top of the economy.

China’s millionaire population grew 3.6 percent last year, adding 100,000 millionaires and bringing its total millionaire count to 2.9 million, according a new report by the Chinese wealth website Hurun. The growth rate marks a sudden slowdown from the double-digit millionaire growth in China in recent years.

By contrast, the U.S. added 640,000 millionaires last year, bringing its total to 9.63 million, according to Spectrem Group. Spectrem defines millionaires as households with investible assets of $1 million or more. 

A man exercises in front of residential buildings along the Shing Mun River in the Sha Tin area of Hong Kong, China.

Jerome Favre | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A man exercises in front of residential buildings along the Shing Mun River in the Sha Tin area of Hong Kong, China.

The number of Chinese worth $16 million or more grew 4 percent to 67,000, according to the report from Hurun and the Industrial Bank. 

Of the 100,000 new millionaires, 30,000 were in Shanghai, 17,000 in Guangdong and 15,000 in Beijing. Beijing still has the most millionaires in China, with 490,000, according to the report.

The report also looked at the health and hobbies of Chinese millionaires. It said the overall “spiritual satisfaction” of Chinese millionaires is relatively high, while the richer millionaires show even higher degrees of satisfaction.

But China’s notorious pollution levels are reaching the penthouses: 87 percent of Chinese millionaires are dissatisfied with pollution levels.

Chinese millionaires spend an average of three hours a week exercising, with jogging, badminton and swimming listed as their top three forms of exercise.

Richest self-made billionaires in Asia

Patrik Stollarz | AFP | Getty Images

They read an average of 10 hours a week, but richer millionaires read 15 hours a week.

“Chinese millionaires are setting aside more time than I expected towards reading and learning, as well as exercise,” said Hurun Report Chairman and Chief Researcher Rupert Hoogewerf.

The top three hobbies of the Chinese rich are fine dining, travel and exercise. Millionaires traveled an average of once a year and spent an average of $10,000.

—By CNBC’s Robert Frank

China’s rich fleeing the country—with their fortunes

It’s one of the largest and most rapid wealth migrations of our time: hundreds of billions of dollars, and waves of millionaires flowing out of China to overseas destinations.

According to WealthInsight, the Chinese wealthy now have about $658 billion stashed in offshore assets. Boston Consulting Group puts the number lower, at around $450 billion, but says offshore investments are expected to double in the next three years.

A study from Bain Consulting found that half of China’s ultrawealthy—those with $16 million or more in wealth—now have investments overseas.

And it’s not just the money that’s exiting the country. The wealthy are increasingly following their money overseas.

A study by Hurun and Bank of China found that more than half of China’s millionaires are considering emigrating or have already taken steps to move overseas.

Many experts say that the wealthy are moving to protect their wealth, their health and their families. With China increasingly cracking down on ill-gotten gains and corruption, many of the politically connected wealthy are looking for safer havens abroad.

They are also looking for better environments for their children—with better schools and cleaner air.

“Whether it is the perceived political instability or perhaps lack of educational opportunities, or pollution in the urban environments there, when you put those altogether … and you mix that with the wealth that’s present in China now, it really makes sense that there are folks there looking to explore these opportunities,” said Peter Joseph of the Association to Invest in the USA, which represents investor-visa programs in the U.S.

Some say the capital flight and millionaire migration are normal consequences of rising wealth. Oliver Williams, of WealthInsight, said that the Chinese wealthy have about 13 percent of their wealth overseas—below the global average of 20 percent to 30 percent.

Still, much of China’s offshore wealth is moved illegally or in the shadow economy. China maintains a closed capital account and Chinese citizens are generally not permitted to move more than $50,000 out of the country. So reliable data on exactly how much money is moving out remains unclear.

But the global buying spree by wealthy Chinese suggests the numbers may be far higher than reported. Wealthy Chinese buyers purchased more than $8 billion worth of residential real estate in the U.S. in the 12 months ended in March, according to the National Association of Realtors. China’s share of foreign-purchased residential real estate has jumped 50 percent since 2011.

One of China’s richest women, Zhang Xin of developer SOHO China, recently bought a townhouse in Manhattan for $26 million, according to reports.

China’s wealthy also are pouring money into collectibles and art. Billionaire Wang Jianlin and his company Dalian Wanda last month bought a Picasso at a Christie’s auction for $28 million. Bidding from Chinese buyers was strong throughout the auctions, according to dealers and gallerists.

It’s also going to wine and diamonds. Diamond dealers say more than half of today’s collectible diamonds are going to Chinese buyers. And on Saturday, the world’s most expensive case of wine—1978 Romanée-Conti—sold in Hong Kong for $476,000.

—By CNBC’s Robert Frank. 

Chinese Steer Billions Abroad in Quest for Safety

By Nadja Brandt, Oshrat Carmiel & Dan Levy – Nov 19, 2013 8:01 AM GMT-1000

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg
The lot at 421 Kent Ave. in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Xinyuan Real Estate Co.’s acquisition of a two-acre parcel near Brooklyn, New York’s Williamsburg waterfront may be the first time a Chinese company took control of a U.S. residential development site of more than a few units, according to 12 years of data from Real Capital Analytics Inc.

More than a dozen Chinese developers gathered for breakfast at a Los Angeles hotel one Sunday earlier this month before taking off for meetings with property brokers, attorneys and potential business partners.

The visitors, none of whom have invested in U.S. real estate development before, would then catch an evening flight to San Jose, California, and meet with more property executives there and in nearby San Francisco. In all, they would stop in six cities over 14 days, including New York and Washington.

“We like the stable and mature investment market in the U.S. relative to the Chinese market,” Jianrong Qian, chairman of Shanghai-based Chiway Holding Group Co., said through an interpreter before heading off to eat with the rest of his group at the InterContinental hotel in Century City. “We were encouraged by the pace of the recovery here in the U.S. after the financial crisis. It shows the resilience of this market.”

Developers from China are committing billions of dollars to projects around the world, from apartment towers in Brooklyn, New York, and a new business district in the U.K. to a residential redevelopment in Sydney and mixed-use buildings in downtown Los Angeles. Regulatory restrictions at home and concerns that the Chinese property market is overheating are spurring companies to venture outside their country for the first time and look far afield for construction opportunities.

“Chinese companies are getting bigger, so they want to diversify beyond their home base,” said Goodwin Gaw, co-founder and chairman of Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital Partners, which is raising as much as $500 million for its first U.S.-focused fund, to be used for real estate development and management. “They feel like it’s their time.”

Relative Stability

Major U.S. cities and parts of Europe and Australia are appealing to developers for their relative stability and predictable population growth, as well as their popularity among wealthy Chinese individual buyers that may be attracted to the properties. The safety offered is enough of a draw that the companies are tackling cultural differences and unfamiliar approval processes, and at times accepting lower returns.

In the U.S., the six biggest metropolitan areas have attracted $2.88 billion in commercial real estate investment by Chinese companies this year, up from $321 million in all of 2012, according to New York-based research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc. The data include both completed and pending transactions. Manhattan and other New York City boroughs were the two biggest areas for deals, with Los Angeles third.

Lower Return

The Chinese are adding to a wave of investment in top markets by buyers including sovereign wealth funds, real estate investment trusts and private-equity firms. In the six major U.S. metro areas, commercial-property prices reached a five-year high in August, the latest month for which figures are available, and are up 6.2 percent this year, according to Moody’s Investors Service and Real Capital Analytics.

Aloha, Condos do well on Kauai and Hawaii island

Aloha,   Sales of single-family homes decline on both islands, with median prices mixed. Condominium sales rose in October on Kauai and Hawaii island, but the same wasn’t true for single-family houses on the same islands, where there has been a general trend of higher demand from home buyers this year.  A report released Tuesday by Hawaii Information Service showed some easing in demand last month, though most homes were sold at higher prices compared with the same month last year.

The biggest gain in sales occurred for condos on Hawaii island, where volume jumped 38 percent to 62 last month from 45 a year earlier. The median price edged up 2 percent to $219,475 from $215,000 in the same period. The median is a point at which half the sales were for more and half for less.   In Hawaii island’s single-family house market, the number of sales slipped 3 percent to 153 last month from 157 a year earlier. Though the decrease was small, it compares with a 17 percent gain in sales over the first 10 months of this year. The median price for Hawaii island single-family houses declined 10 percent to $269,000 from $299,999.

On Kauai, single-family house sales declined 23 percent to 30 last month from 39 a year earlier. For the first 10 months of this year, sales were up 11 percent. The median price for Kauai single-family houses jumped 43 percent to $586,000 from $410,000. The increase was driven in part by fewer sales at the lower end of the market in the Kawaihau region, according to Hawaii Information data.  In October 2012, 21 of the 39 single-family houses sold on Kauai were in the Kawaihau region. The median price for the 21 homes was $385,000. Last month there were just seven sales in the same area for a median $470,000.

Most home sales on Kauai last month happened in the Koloa area, where there were nine sales for a median $675,000 compared with eight sales for a median $489,500 last October.  In Kauai’s condo market, there were 33 sales last month compared with 29 a year earlier, reflecting a 14 percent gain. The median price was up 28 percent to $320,000 from $250,000 in the same period.

InvestHK building bridge for mainland companies to go global

With the 17th China International Fair for Investment and Trade set to open on Sunday in Xiamen of southeast China’s coastal Fujian province, China Daily’s Zhang Haizhou sat down with Victoria Tang, associate director-general of Invest Hong Kong, to discuss the flow of investments between the mainland and the special administrative region, and how the financial hub of Asia connects mainland investors with the world.

Why are you attending this year’s CIFIT, and what is the significance of the event?

At CIFIT this year, Invest Hong Kong is pleased to continue organizing a seminar and media conference on Sept 8 to promote the business advantages of Hong Kong.

It focuses on service industries and will encourage more mainland companies to “go global”.

Invest Hong Kong will also work with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to host a Hong Kong Pavilion at CIFIT.

The pavilion will feature a thematic design of “Windows of Infinite Opportunities” to highlight the role of Hong Kong as an international business platform offering high-quality professional services, and strengths in logistics, finance, eco-friendliness, fashion, entertainment and product design.

How big is Hong Kong as a destination for investment from the Chinese mainland?

The mainland market is the largest source of inbound direct investment into Hong Kong. According to a government survey, more than 250 mainland companies were maintaining regional operations in Hong Kong to oversee or coordinate their business on a global or regional scale as of last June.

For the first half of this year, Invest Hong Kong has assisted a record 213 overseas and mainland companies to set up or expand in Hong Kong.

The interim results were encouraging because they showed continued strength despite challenging global conditions.

The 213 completed projects came from 33 different markets.

In what ways can mainland investors get help from Hong Kong in their global endeavors?

We have seen an upward trend in investments from mainland companies in Hong Kong, covering a wide spectrum of businesses, such as wholesale and retail trade, financial services, logistics, construction, information and communication technology, hospitality and tourism as well as consultancy services.

As an international financial, trade and shipping center, Hong Kong offers a free, open and liberal market economy.

Hong Kong scores highly for its business-friendly environment, rich experience in international marketing, robust regulatory regime, world-class infrastructure and rich pool of skilled professionals and services staff.

Are there any restrictions or barriers for the mainland’s firms to invest in Hong Kong? Does Hong Kong have a preference for firms from any sectors in particular?

There is generally no entry barrier to direct investment in Hong Kong and we offer all a level playing field.

Mainland companies are welcome to set up or expand in Hong Kong and use the place as a “testing ground” for expanding overseas.

Service industries currently account for some 93 percent of Hong Kong’s GDP.

Investors often set up regional headquarters or regional offices in Hong Kong for sales, marketing, distribution, finance, management and R&D functions and form strategic partnerships with Hong Kong entrepreneurs.

What are the major advantages of Hong Kong compared to other attractive destinations at a time when increasing numbers of mainland investors are going global?

Hong Kong ranked third in terms of global Foreign Direct Investment inflows in 2012, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s World Investment Report 2013.

Hong Kong’s enduring advantages, including its low and simple tax regime, rule of law, free flows of information and capital, and a workforce with an international perspectives, continue to make it a desirable platform for overseas and mainland investors.

 

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We’re not overseas Real Estate Agents, we are property and lifestyle consultants managing the project with you, on your behalf.

Brilliant Space Hawaii (BSH) provides personalized International Concierge Services within the real estate markets of Honolulu Hawaii, USA. When investing in overseas property there are many different aspects that need to be considered such as, how to finance your purchase, how to protect yourself against currency fluctuations, what is the best taxation vehicle and how to maximize rental returns.
In response we have designed a comprehensive range of services and have partnered with some of the best professionals in their industries, who are experienced in dealing with the global property investor.

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