India, China lead Asia’s billionaire tables

NEW YORK, March 5, 2008 (AFP) – The number of billionaires in Asia jumped more than 30 percent last year, with tycoons from India and China leading the charge, according to Forbes magazine’s annual billionaires list. Taiwan had seven, Indonesia and Singapore both counted five, while Thailand had three and the Philippines two. In total, this year saw 1,125 people around the world making the list, up from 946 last year, representing a total net worth of 4.4 trillion dollars and a dramatic increase from 3.5 trillion dollars in 2007.

Asians accounted for 211 people on the list, up from 160 last year, with India counting 53, up from 36 in 2007, and China, which had just 20 billionaires last year, now boasting 42.

Hong Kong saw five more entrepreneurs make the grade, giving it a total of 26 and meaning that China and Hong Kong, which has a special administrative status under Beijing, lead the Asian list if grouped together.

Japan, which last year lost Asia’s leading spot after 20 years at the top, by contrast counted only 24 tycoons on the list, unchanged from last year and down from 27 in 2006.

“We see some trends that show that (China’s) maybe several years or a decade behind the United States. We have