"After falling 14.2 per cent in 2008 to 2.4 million, Asia-Pacific's HNWI population rebounded in 2009 to reach three million, matching that of Europe's HNWI population for the very first time," a media release said.

Those three million people in Asia-Pacific saw their total wealth grow nearly a third to $9.7 trillion, more than erasing 2008 losses and surpassing the $9.5 trillion held by their European counterparts, it added.

Wealthy recoup losses

The shift in rankings came because gains in Europe, while sizeable, were far smaller than those in the Asia-Pacific region, which saw continued robust growth in both economic and market drivers of wealth, the statement said.

In depth

The report said India and the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong "led growth in Asia-Pacific, after experiencing massive declines in their HNWI bases and wealth in 2008".

Worldwide, the wealthy have nearly recouped losses of 2008 and total assets are now approaching levels last seen in 2007, before a US housing crisis triggered the global recession.

Bertrand Lavayssiere, managing director for global financial services at Capgemini, said "the rebound has been, and will continue to be, driven by emerging markets - especially India and China, as well as Brazil".

"In fact, Asia-Pacific was the only region in which both macroeconomic and market drivers of wealth expanded significantly in 2009."