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World's Millionaires Rise 6.5% in 2005 to 8.7 Million

The number of millionaires in the world rose 6.5% in 2005 to a total of 8.7 million people with combined total assets of $33.6 trillion, a survey by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini found. Their net worth is double from 10 years ago, when the two companies began the annual survey of people with financial assets of $1 million or more.

The new rich grew at the fastest pace in South Korea (up 21.3%), followed by India (19.3%), Russia (17.4%) and South Africa (15.9%). Brazil and China are also experiencing increases in affluence. What's driving the wealth upsurge is oil, real estate and stocks.

And among the ultra-rich, those with $30 million or more in financial assets, the growth last year was even more staggering. They now number 85,400, up 8.9% from the year before.

Since the increase in the number of millionaires is greater outside the U.S. and Europe, a number of asset management firms are looking to expand internationally, including UBS, which has just acquired a Russian banking license and is negotiating to buy a stake in Beijing Securities. Earlier this year, UBS acquired Banco Pactual of Brazil. Merrill Lynch is also in talks to establish joint ventures in a number of foreign markets. Last December, it raised its stake in a leading Indian broker to 90%, and earlier this year, it formed a joint venture in Japan with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

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