Rich Malaysians get richer!

Kuok and Ananda continue to be cream of Malaysia’s wealthiest

KUALA LUMPUR: The 40 wealthiest Malaysians are worth US$62.1bil (RM188.32bil), up by US$11.1bil (RM33.7bil) compared with last year, according to the latest rich list published by Forbes Asia.

In a statement yesterday, Forbes Asia said the combined wealth was almost 22% more than the list in 2010.

“The better coffers come on the back of the country’s healthy economy which grew 7.2% last year, the highest rate since 2000,” it said.

The first two spots were still occupied by Tan Sri Robert Kuok Hock Nien and Tan Sri T. Ananda Krishnan, respectively.

Kuok, 87, has held pole position since 2006 when Forbes Asia began ranking the 40 richest Malaysians.

He was worth US$12.5bil (RM38bil), up by half a billion from last year.

His biggest source of wealth was his stake in Wilmar International, the world’s largest listed palm oil company.

Ananda, 72, was at No 2 with US$9.5bil (RM28.83bil), up from US$8.1bil (RM24.6bil) last year.

His Maxis Communications Bhd is Malaysia’s biggest cellphone service provider.

At No 3 is this year’s biggest gainer in dollar terms, Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua.

The 81-year-old, widow of casino magnate Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, was one of three women on the list this year.

Her Genting shares took off when the company’s Singapore operations on Sentosa Island opened, boosting the family’s net worth by US$2.7bil (RM8.2bil) to US$6.6bil (RM20.03bil) from a year ago.

Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, who built IOI Group into one of the world’s biggest palm oil producers, fell down a spot at No 4 with a net worth of $5bil (RM15.2bil), up by US$400mil (RM1.21bil) from last year.

AirAsia Bhd’s Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, budget airline pioneer and Forbes Asia’s 2010 Businessman of the Year, was ranked No 20 this year, down one spot from last year despite his wealth increasing to US$470mil (RM1.43bil) from US$330mil (RM1bil) last year.

The only newcomer this year was Chia Song Kun at No 24 with US$400mil (RM1.21bil).

The share price of his QL Resources Bhd, the seafood, egg production and palm oil company, has doubled since last year.

Datuk Tony Tiah Thee Kian at No 35 was the only returnee to the list after a year’s absence as stocks in his TA Enterprise Bhd have recovered. He was worth US$170mil (RM516mil).

Not all did well, however, as there were three this year who saw their wealth reduced, led by Tan Sri Vincent Tan at No 9.

The self-made entrepreneur, who runs Berjaya Group, saw his wealth decline to US$1.25bil (RM3.8bil) from US$1.6bil (RM4.9bil) last year.

Timber tycoon Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King was the only person who did not see any changes to his wealth. He was still worth US$1.2bil (RM3.64bil) and ranked No 10.

The rich get richer

Five more billionaires

This year’s list contains 27 billionaires, five more than the previous list. As for newcomers, there are three, with two making their debut.

While last year, a tycoon on the Main Market had to have at least RM386 million to make the rich list, this year the figure has shot up to RM524 million. Comparatively, the richest tycoon on the ACE Market is valued at RM103 million.

Interestingly, the bulk of the fortune of this year’s list lies in the Top 10, whose collective wealth of RM168.01 billion alone surpasses that of the whole of last year’s list totaling RM156.7 billion! Six out of these 10 registered increases of close to 50% and more in their wealth.

Thus it would appear that these individuals were able to return stronger in 2011 through the increase in the share prices of their companies. Even so, people close to these tycoons will attest that the road to riches is hardly a smooth one, needing guts, an astute business sense, and smart corporate maneuvering to win the confidence of investors.

Singapore-domiciled Ong Beng Seng makes his entry to the Top 10 ranks thanks to the surging valuation of his British-listed Mulberry Group Plc. His wealth doubled to RM3.98 billion from a year ago, taking him past Berjaya Group’s Tan Sri Vincent Tan who drops two rungs to 12.

Telecommunications tycoon closes in

T Ananda Krishnan, who for most years had to play second fiddle to first-placed Robert Kuok, closes the gap considerably this year. With a fortune estimated at RM45.78 billion, the telecommunications magnate is now only some RM5 billion away from Kuok’s RM50.04 billion.

The upturn in Ananda’s fortune comes following his move last year to take private three of his companies – incidentally at prices substantially more than what they were trading at in January 2010. This buyout hat trick involving Tanjong Plc, Astro All Asia Networks Plc and Meast Global Bhd had shocked the market, fuelling speculation that the tycoon was looking to exit the local scene.

However, this was not the case. Going by his track record, these companies will likely be relisted some day in the future and come back stronger, as in the case of his Maxis Bhd.

Last year, Ananda also sold his interest in Singapore-listed Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) to Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group.

In the case of Kuok, he could be worth more if not for China’s aggressive policy measures to cool its overheating economy, which weighed down on the billionaire’s Chinese property investment values, spearheaded through companies like Kerry Properties Ltd and Shangri-La Asia Ltd.

That aside, last year was a memorable one for the Hong Kong-based tycoon who made a quick and dramatic return to the sugar business via Singapore-listed Wilmar International Ltd’s takeover of Australian-based CSR Ltd’s sugar unit, Sucrogen.

As for banker Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow of Public Bank Bhd, a close to 20% rise in his personal value sees him displacing IOI Corporation Bhd’s Tan Sri Lee Sing Cheng from his third-placed perch.

Standing firm in their places

There were no changes in the fifth to ninth rankings. Genting Bhd’s Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay’s wealth growth may appear paltry this year but this was because of the assumption we made previously that he was the major beneficiary of the two family trust funds he created after the demise of his father and Genting founder, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong.

Recent annual reports now reveal that he owns only one-third of one of the trusts, Parkview Management Sdn Bhd, which wholly owns Kien Huat Realty Sdn Bhd, which in turns owns 39.52% of Genting.

But even with the less than 5% rise at RM10.89 billion, Lim still retains his fifth spot.

His mum, Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua, is richer by 69% and, at RM7.42 billion, is the country’s wealthiest woman.

Hong Leong Group’s Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan and MMC Corporation Bhd’s Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary saw almost a 50% growth in their financial worth in tandem with increases in their stockholding values. Quek is estimated to be worth RM10.75 billion while Syed Mokhtar is valued at RM8.84 billion.

Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King, who derives the bulk of his wealth from his vast timber assets, remains at number nine and is estimated to be worth 40% more following improved timber prices. The Rimbunan Hijau Group founder is worth RM4.77 billion.

Enjoying substantial gains

Back to the overall list, other tycoons who registered substantial gains in their wealth are Tan Sri Lau Cho Kun of Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd and AirAsia Bhd duo Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun.

Sabah-based Lau’s wealth soared more than 200% on the back of richer valuations of his Hap Seng to propel him to number 18 from 31 previously. He is valued at RM1.77 billion, making him one of the five new billionaires on the list.

AirAsia’s chief executive officer Fernandes also strengthens his position, gaining him entry into the billionaires’ club with a fortune of RM1.043 billion, up 80% from previously. His business partner Kamarudin is valued at RM856.02 million, which moves him up nine rungs.

The bullish market sentiment over the past year also sees the five sons of Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay joining the billionaires’ league. Together with the senior Yeoh, the family is worth a cool RM6.7 billion.

Declining wealth

This year we have five tycoons recording a decline in their financial worth as opposed to 2010, when everyone had registered an increase.

Berjaya Group’s Vincent Tan, whose wealth is down by some 30%, registered the biggest drop that saw him exiting the Top 10. Other tycoons with declining wealth numbers were Top Glove Corporation Bhd’s Tan Sri Dr Lim Wee-Chai, Samling Group’s Datuk Yaw Teck Seng, KNM Group’s Lee Swee Eng and TA Enterprise Bhd’s Datuk Tony Tiah.

Two tycoons were forced off the list – Tan Sri Kua Sia Kooi of Kurnia Asia Bhd and Tan Sri Rozali Ismail of Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd. Kua’s wealth halved to RM291 million following the decline in the market capitalization of his flagship. Rozali saw his wealth drop about 20% to RM395.66 million as the impasse in the consolidation of water assets took a toll on the company’s share valuations.

Despite his wealth growing by more than 25%, CIMB Group’s chief executive, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, does not make the cut this time around as other newcomers propelled in at a higher worth. As at Jan 21, his 0.78% stake in the banking giant is valued at RM483.52 million as opposed to RM386 million previously, and this puts him just past our cut-off point at number 41.

Welcome, the new and not so new

Of the newcomers to the list, Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum earns his wealth from property via his flagship Mah Sing Group Bhd, while Datuk Seri Stanley Thai rides on the glove-making company he founded, Supermax Corporation Bhd.

Leong enters at 35th spot with a wealth level of RM618.40 million and Stanley Thai at 39 with a fortune estimated at RM538.73 million.

The third newcomer, Datuk Tan Heng Chew of Tan Chong Motors Holdings Bhd, is not entirely a new face, as he makes a comeback after an absence of two years. At 38th spot, he is valued at RM556.82 million.


One Response to “Rich Malaysians get richer!”

  1. Victor Says:

    Mr. Robert Kuok does not carry any title except for “Mister” and if you are a friend of his, he prefers to be called “Bro” in Chinese. 🙂


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