Europe's share of the world's fortunes has grown in the last 25 years despite the rise of new wealth centres in Asia and other emerging markets.
Yet, for much of the period, growth came not from established economies such as France and Germany but from emerging Europe, especially Russia and Turkey, according to the survey of ultra-high-net-worths by Societe Generale and Forbes Insights.
Europe now accounts for 29% of the world's largest fortunes, up two percentage points in 25 years, and emerging Europe accounts for 42% of the continent's fortunes.
The survey also found that the “survival rate” of western European fortunes, as measured by their presence on the Forbes Billionaires list for more than 25 years, was higher than in any other region.
However, the report authors also observed that few newly created fortunes in western Europe are made by entrepreneurs, suggesting a potential lack of dynamism in the European economy, while in emerging Europe, many super-rich individuals owe their wealth to state privatisations.
“Detailed analysis of the 56 newcomer fortunes from western Europe shows that few of them have been started recently, are first generation, result from new industries such as technology or, in the case of some fortunes in emerging Europe, are free of ties to previously state-owned assets,” says the report.
“While the lack of these attributes is not a negative per se, they do point to the fact that business is done more or less the way it has always been done, with relatively little dynamic change.”
The report notes that European families have “mastered the art of keeping successful companies going for generations”, often by building up established and trusted brands, particularly in the retail sector.
“But does western Europe also need another type of entrepreneur – one independent of family ties and going beyond the traditional area of being the world’s tastemaker? Will emerging Europe continue to generate momentum once the wave of fortunes based on post-privatization deals has played out?”
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