Israel had 10,153 millionaires in 2010, 20.6% more than the 8,419 millionaires in 2009, according to Merrill Lynch and Capgemini's "2011 World Wealth Report". The millionaires' aggregate disposable income rose to $52 billion in 2010 from $43 billion in 2009. The report defines a millionaire as person with at least $1 million in net liquidity, not including investments, and after deducting liabilities.
Merrill Lynch attributes the increase in the number of millionaires last year to the 20.6% increase in financial holdings in the capital market and a 16% increase in prices for non-financial assets, such as real estate. Despite the strong growth in the number of millionaires last year, the increase was half the 42% increase in 2009.
The "2011 World Wealth Report" says that there were 10.9 million millionaires in the world in 2010, 8.3% more than in 2009.
Merrill Lynch Israel private banking manager Sigal Shapira attributed the slower increase in the number of millionaires last year to the slower growth in global stock markets to 16% in 2010 from almost 50% in 2009.
The report says that millionaires increased their stock portfolios in 2010 and reduced their holdings in cash, deposits, and bonds. Stocks accounted 33% of millionaires' portfolios at the end of 2010, up from 26% a year earlier.
As for the wealthiest Israelis, Israel has 12 billionaires with fortunes of over $1.5 billion, on the basis of Forbes' 2011 list of the world's billionaires as updated by "Globes"
1. The family of the late Sammy Ofer: $10.3 billion. World ranking - 79.
Sammy Ofer died earlier this month, which did not change the fact that the Ofer family is Israel's wealthiest, mainly thanks to Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) subsidiary Israel Chemicals Ltd. (TASE: ICL), which has a current market cap of $19 billion. The late Sammy Ofer and his sons, Eyal and Idan, also have extensive shipping interests, including Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. and deepwater drilling contractor Pacific Drilling SA (OMX: PDSA), which has a market cap of $1.7 billion, so that Israel Chemicals is not the only source of the family's fortune.
2. Beny Steinmetz: $6 billion. World ranking - 162.
Beny Steinmetz owns gold, nickel, cobalt and other mines in Africa. Soaring commodities for metals benefit mining magnates boosting their fortunes. He did not float any of his companies last year, but one investment, in Canada's Gabriel Resources Ltd. (TSX: GBU) has generated a paper gain of hundreds of millions of dollars, which will presumably be converted into cash in the future.
3. Shari Arison: $5.1 billion. World ranking - 200.
Little change last year in the companies of Shari Arison, Israel's wealthiest woman. Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI), which she controls, continues to battle Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) for the title of Israel's largest bank. Hapoalim's market cap is $6.7 billion.
4. Arnon Milchen: $4 billion. World ranking - 268.
Milchen, a movie producer, has not yet returned to reside in Israel, preferring Los Angeles, even as he continues as a shareholder in Israel's Channel 10.
5. Wertheimer family: $4 billion. World ranking - 268.
Stef Wertheimer and his son, Eitan, continue to enjoy the capital accumulated from the sale of 80% of Iscar Ltd. to Warren Buffet's Berkshire Holdings Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) for $4 billion in 2006.
6. Alexander Machkevich: $2.9 billion. World ranking - 297.
Machkevich made most of his fortune in mining by Kazakhstan-based Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (LSE; KASE: ENRC), which is currently in the midst of a storm, with shareholders claiming breach of the company's articles of incorporation, resulting in the company losing a third of its market cap.
7. Yitzhak Tshuva: $2.6 billion. World ranking - 440.
Tshuva profits regardless of whether Egypt exports gas to Israel or not. Delek Group Ltd's (TASE: DLEKG) natural gas discoveries in Israel is giving the country economic independence. The tycoon's energy fortune absorbs his real estate losses, especially in North America.
8. David Azrieli: $2.5 billion.
Azrieli is a new entry on the list of Israeli billionaires. Last year he floated Azrieli Group Ltd. (TASE: AZRG), which has a current market cap of $3.3 billion, 7% more than its IPO value. He has pledged to donate his fortune to charity.
9. Gil Shwed: $2 billion.
2010 was the year of Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP), which Shwed co-founded with Shlomo Kramer and Marius Nacht. The share price has risen 71% over the past 12 months to $11.1 billion, giving Shwed's stake a value of $1.7 billion and $2 billion, including his options.
10. Lev Leviev: $1.6 billion
The diamond and real estate magnate finally marked the opening of the AFIMall in Moscow earlier this year. Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL) share price has recovered 11% over the past 12 months, to a market cap of $767 million.
11. Teddy Sagi: $1.6 billion.
Gaming software developer Playtech Cyprus Ltd. (AIM:PTEC) has lost a quarter of its value over the past 12 months, but this has barely affected Sagi's fortune. He has sold privately-owned companies to Playtech for $196 million, and expanded his real estate business.
12. Shaul Shani: $1.5 billion.
Shani joined the billionaires list after selling the controlling core of Brazilian telecom GVT for $1.3 billion, reflecting a company value of $4.2 billion. The rise of emerging markets has thus made Shani into one of the most liquid Israelis in the world.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 22, 2011
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