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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
World rich 'keep getting richer'
Gold dollar sign
The rich club is becoming less and less exclusive, figures show
The world's richest people have increased their wealth at the fastest pace in seven years, a report suggests.

Merrill Lynch and Capgemini reported that the total wealth of high-net worth individuals rose 11.4% to $37.2 trillion (18.6 trillion) in 2006.

There were 9.5m people with assets of more than $1m (500,000), while the number of super-rich, with assets in excess of $30m, was 94,970.

The report comes amid concerns that the gap between rich and poor is widening.

Spending power

In previous weeks, a number of policymakers and high profile bankers have warned that the world's poor risk being left behind.

A number of factors have combined to make people wealthier.

Firstly there has been steady economic and corporate profit growth in developed nations such as the UK and US, and a recovery in Japan and Germany.

Secondly, emerging economies including China and India have been powering ahead, while Russia and many other producer nations have been benefiting from record commodity prices.

At the same time, a shift in financial markets and a boom in the number of takeovers and mergers has helped boost shares and bonuses for workers in the City of London and on Wall Street.

The UK saw the number of its high net worth individuals climb by 8.1% to 484,580 in 2006, the report said.

The UK is now home to 16.7% of Europe's high net worth individuals.

In Germany, the rate of growth was 4.1% and in France it was 6%.

China and Russia were among the top 10 fastest growing countries, with high net worth individuals up by 7.8% in China and 15.5% in Russia.

Singapore was another nation that saw its rich club expand quickly.

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