14 September 2009

Singapore’s 40 Richest Ranking

Hai, seems like the gap between the wealthy and the poor is getting bigger and bigger in Singapore. The poor only gets poorer, and the rich gets richer by the days!


Singapore is emerging from its deepest recession since the island became an independent nation in 1965. Though the economy may shrink up to 6% this year, there are signs that the worst is over. GDP expanded in the second quarter for the first time in a year. Exports and manufacturing were up in July, and property prices and sales are picking up. The country’s main stock index has jumped almost 90% since its March low.

All of this has meant a boost in the fortunes of the nation’s richest. The total net worth of Singapore’s top 40 is $39 billion, up 20% from last year’s $32 billion. Ng Teng Fong is No. 1 again, worth $8 billion, $1 billion more than last year. Kuok Khoon Hong’s net worth is up $2.2 billion to $3.5 billion, thanks in part to a 70% jump in the stock price of palm oil firm Wilmar International.

Some of the increase is due to the addition of very wealthy newcomers such as the Kwee brothers, who debut at No. 4 with a combined net worth of $3.2 billion. The Kwee brothers, who equally share ownership of Pontiac Land, the property developer that owns the city—state’s Ritz—Carlton, are not new money and are well—known in Singapore’s business circle. But they were not previously included due to lack of reliable financial information.

Other rich—listers like the Lien family, previously listed under Margaret Lien, got a boost from the inclusion of relatives’ holdings (done to treat rich listers as evenly as possible and to provide the broadest snapshot of Singapore’s wealth).

Oversea—Chinese Banking Corp.’s Lee Seng Wee’s fortune got a bump for a similar reason as we decided to combine his fortune with that of his brother Lee Seng Tee, who was No. 32 last year.

One set of brothers not on the list: the Kewalram Chanrais. While a holding company called Kewalram Singapore owns 23% of Olam (the company the family helped found), worth almost $700 million, the brothers are apparently excluded as potential beneficiaries.

Malaysian citizen Ong Beng Seng is listed this year with his Singaporean wife, Christina, who last appeared herself on this list in 2007. The Ongs live in the city—state and together have stakes in Singapore companies NSL and Kuo International, run by her brother Peter Fu Chong Cheng, who debuts with a $570 million fortune.

Overall, 19 on the list added to their wealth, including real estate tycoon Koh Wee Meng, who builds affordable housing and runs budget hotels, and Yao Hsiu Tung, whose Hi—P makes components for consumer products companies including Research In Motion, Procter & Gamble and Apple.

Thirteen returning tycoons are poorer than they were a year ago. The biggest loser in percentage terms was ship builder Brian Chang, whose fortune dropped 71% to $160 million.

A minimum net worth of $135 million was needed to make the cut, up from $120 million in 2008, and four of last year’s top 40 fell short. One of them was Kartar Singh Thakral, as shares in Australia—listed real estate investment trust Thakral Holdings are down 60% since last year. Another dropoff was Wong Fong Fui, a newcomer we profiled last year but whose fortune fell along with the stock of his Boustead Singapore, down 35% in the past year.

Public fortunes were calculated using share prices and exchange rates as of Aug. 28, 2009. For privately held assets, we estimated what they would be worth if public. This ranking, unlike Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, includes numerous nuclear family fortunes shared by individuals with their children and grandchildren, or with their siblings. Because so many fortunes include at least some relatives’ holdings, Forbes Asia no longer lists "and family" but rather details family information in the bios when appropriate. Where family fortunes are held by extended families, such as the Kwek cousins, we split them into separate entries.

The TOP 4o!:
1. Ng Teng Fong & family - $7B
Nation's richest for second consecutive year with 72% stake in Hong Kong-listed Tsim Sha Tsui Properties. Also owns privately held Far East Organization, which has developed more than 700 hotels, malls, condos in Singapore. Older son Robert oversees Hong Kong interests; younger son Philip manages Singapore. Creating hipper image: Quincy, 108-room hotel, styled after the trendy W Hotels chain.

2. Khoo Family - $6.1B
Late banker Khoo Teck Puat left fortune to 14 children in 2004. Family sold stake in Standard Chartered Bank in 2006 for estimated $4 billion. Held on to Goodwood Group of Hotels, which includes Singapore's Goodwood Park, run by daughter Mavis; daughter Elizabeth runs another hotel in Singapore. Khoo's estate gave $32 million for Peking University's new sports complex, venue for Beijing Olympics table tennis competition; $60 million for new medical school, a collaboration between Duke University and the National University of Singapore.

3. Wee Cho Yaw & family - $3.6B
Remains chairman of Singapore's United Overseas Bank after handing chief executive reigns to son Wee Ee Cheong last year. Bank shares up slightly over past year. Graduated from high school in China. President of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations.

4. Zhong Sheng Jian - $1.8B

5. Kuok Khoon Hong - $1.3B

6. Kwek Leng Beng & family - $1.2B
Head of Hong Leong Group, conglomerate started by father, Kwek Hong Png, and Png's 3 brothers in 1940s. Interests include property, financial services, building materials. Company foundation gave $200,000 to rebuild schools in China after Sichuan earthquake. Cousins Kwek Leng Kee (No. 13), Kwek Leng Peck (No. 25) and Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan have own stakes in empire.

7. Peter Lim - $1.1B

8. Lee Seng Wee - $730M
Former chairman of Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., still sits on board. Director in family companies including Lee Rubber. Chairs Temasek Trust, a government-backed civic initiative.

9. Tan Boy Tee - $720M

10. Brian Chang - $560M

Ho Sim Guan
Chew Hua Seng
Kwek Leng Kee
Chang Yun Chung
Ow Chio Kiat & family
Lee Kian Soo & family
Olivia Lum
Ng Chwee Cheng & family
Ho Kwon Ping
Chua Thian Poh
Cheng Wai Keung & family
Simon Cheong
Vivian Chandran
Koh Wee Meng
Kwek Leng Peck & family
Loo Choon Yong
Oei Hong Leong
Yao Hsiao Tung
Victor Sassoon
Kartar Singh Thakral
John Chuang & family
Lee Seng Tee
Goh Lik Tuan
Wong Ngit Liong
Henry Ng & family
Margaret Lien
Wong Fong Fui
Mustaq Ahmad
Sunny George Verghese
David Lam

(Information from Yahoo and Forbes)

1 Macro Voice(s):

(^-_-^) said...

Hi again. I don't think the poor aren't getting poorer. Statistically speaking. The poorest in Singapore today, are no where near as poor as the poorest in Singapore were decades ago. The rich are simply getting richer faster than the poor are. The only reason why our gini coefficient has risen so much compared to a century ago is because back then, almost everybody was equally poor.