Friday, May 29, 2009

Forbes Asia Malaysia’s 40 richest list

First Richest: Robert Kuok

Second Richest: Ananda Krishnan

Third Richest: Lee Shin Cheng

KUALA LUMPUR: Three newcomers made their debut on Forbes Asia’s 40 richest Malaysians for 2009, whose combined wealth fell by 22% to US$36 billion (RM126 billion) from US$46 billion a year ago.

Forbes Asia said the newcomers, who made their debut thanks to the discovery of better or new information, were IOI board member Chan Fong Ann (No 18, US$209 million), gaming tycoon Tan Sri Chen Lip Keong (No 21, US$195 million) and software executive Goh Peng Ooi (No 34, US$112 million).

The magazine said the 22% loss in wealth was largely in line with the 21% drop in the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) and was not too bad, considering the fact that the ringgit had lost 10% against the US dollar, the currency in which the net worth is measured.

It said four people had returned to the ranks after an absence of a year or more. Among them are Tan Sri Syed Mohd Yusof Tun Syed Nasir (No 37, US$100 million) and Tan Sri Tan Teong Hean (No 39, US$95 million), who cashed out of Southern Bank several years ago and are now making new investments.

The minimum net worth to make the list is US$90 million, down from US$100 million last year. This is held by Tan Sri Kua Sian Kooi, executive chairman of Kurnia Asia, who made it to the last spot following a big rally in his insurance firm’s stock, up 50% since the start of April.

Forbes Asia said Malaysian citizen Ong Beng Seng, who has lived in Singapore for decades, is wealthy enough to qualify but stands to be listed under that nation’s 40 richest in September, largely due to the fact that he and his wife, Christina, who is a citizen of Singapore, share a number of holdings.

Kuok Group’s patriarch, Robert Kuok, is No 1 again with a net worth of US$9 billion, down from US$10 billion a year ago. He has held the top spot every year since Forbes Asia began ranking the 40 richest Malaysians in 2006.

Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan held to his second place with a net worth of US$7 billion, down from US$7.2 billion last year. Ananda has also maintained the same ranking every year since 2006.

Together, Kuok and Ananda are worth US$16 billion and account for 44% of the top 40’s wealth. They are also the two richest people in Southeast Asia.

Third-richest is Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, head of IOI Group, one of the world’s leading operators of oil palm plantations. He is worth US$3.2 billion, down from US$5.5 billion last year, but keeps his position in the top three.

Malaysia has nine billionaires who are collectively worth US$30 billion, representing 84% of the total wealth amassed by the country’s top 40. This is the biggest wealth disparity among Forbes Asia’s rich lists.

Tan Sri Vincent Tan (No 10, US$750 million) of Berjaya Corporation Bhd is the only Malaysian to have dropped out of the billionaire ranks in the past 12 months as share prices in his companies declined.

Forbes Asia said the net worth among the 40 richest had picked up since March when Forbes published its world billionaires’ list. Kuok’s holdings are up US$2 billion since that period, in line with a surge in the KLCI. Five other billionaires have posted a combined US$800 million in gains since then.

1. Robert Kuok
(Down) US$9 billion Diversified
85. Married, eight children
One-time rice, sugar trader heads multinational Kuok Group. Biggest source of wealth is stake in Wilmar International, a palm oil outfit run by his nephew. Other big holdings are Hong Kong real estate group Kerry Properties, hotel operator Shangri-La Asia. Has an interest in South China Morning Post publisher. With Filipino tycoon Eduardo Cojuangco Jr’s San Miguel, he plans to spend up to US$1 billion to develop public land for farming to boost agricultural sector.

2. Ananda Krishnan
(Down) US$7 billion Telecom
71. Married, three children
Runs Maxis Communications, Malaysia’s largest cell phone service provider, with more than 10 million subscribers; took it private in June 2007 in US$12 billion deal, then sold 25% to Saudi Telecom the same month. Last year, he sold Excel, the exhibition venue in London’s Docklands, for reported US$230 million and bought 20% stake in British regional newspaper chain Johnston Press, luckily a small holding, as stock has dropped more than 80% since as it struggles with debt. Modern art collector, has homes in Kuala Lumpur, London and south of France; has a son who is a monk living in the forest.

3. Lee Shin Cheng
(Down) US$3.2 billion Palm oil
70. Married, six children
Former plantation field supervisor
heads IOI Group, one of world’s leading operators of palm oil plantations, refineries. Took its IOI Properties private in April. IOI’s stock has doubled since November but still down a third since last year amid falling commodity prices.

4. Lee Kim Hua
(Down) US$2.5 billion Gaming
80. Widowed, six children
Widow of Lim Goh Tong, who transformed a jungle on outskirts of Kuala Lumpur into one of world’s most successful casino resorts. Genting Group is now run by her son Lim Kok Thay (No 14) but inheritance is held in trust to benefit Lee, her children and grandchildren.

5. Teh Hong Piow
(Down) US$2.4 billion Banking
79. Married, four children
Former bank clerk opened first bank in 1966. Now his Public Bank has 14,000 employees; branches throughout Malaysia, also in Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, China. Set up Public Islamic Bank as a subsidiary in November 2008. Donates to medical institutions and to the Malaysian Nature Society to fund planting of trees.

6. Quek Leng Chan
(Down) US$2.3 billion Diversified
68. Married, three children
Heads conglomerate Hong Leong Group Malaysia, with interests in finance, entertainment, real etate.Bought 5% stake in Mokhzani Mahathir’s (No 16) Kencana Petroleum and 3% in Intercontinental Hotels Group last year. Family’s Guoco and is planning retail, residential, office projects in China. Inherited business from his father, one of 3 brothers to start a banking group in 1920s.

7. Yeoh Tiong Lay
(Down) US$1.8 billion Diversified
79. Married, seven children
Founded YTL Corp, one of Malaysia’s largest conglomerates, run by his son Francis.

8. Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary
(Down) US$1.1 billion Diversified
57. Married, five children
Former rice trader controls Malaysia Mining Corp (MMC); has stakes in Malaysia’s Johor Port, independent power producer Malakoff, natural gas distributor Gas Malaysia. Inking projects in Saudi Arabia, Jordan. Lost billionaire status earlier this year but back up top thanks to rebound of MMC stock. His Albukhary Foundation offers scholarships to students from poor countries to pursue college education in Malaysia.

9. Tiong Hiew King
(Down) US$1 billion Timber
74. Married, four children
Dubbed by some as Asia’s RupertMurdoch — his Chinese Media International has five newspapers, 30 magazines in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, North America. His Rimbunan Hijau, has palm oil, timber assets. Big player in New Zealand, where he owns timber, property and fish farming companies; also in Papua New Guinea, where he has an English language newspaper, hypermarkets and controversial logging operations.

10. Vincent Tan
(Down) US$750 million Diversified
57. Married, 11 children
Has run Berjaya since 1984; interests in hotels, lotteries, real estate, finance. Operates 7-Eleven, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Borders in Malaysia. Opened first Krispy Kreme store there in April. Also operates water and sewage treatment and sanitary landfills in Malaysia, Indonesia and China. Selling stake in moneylosing US eatery Roadhouse Grill; setting up a school in China.

11. Azman Hashim
(Down) US$470 million Finance
69. Married, five children
Longtime banking executive has been executive chairman of Amcorp since 1993. Malaysian financial services group. Opened Brunei operations in May. Chairman of the Malaysian Investment Banking Association. Loves scuba diving, painting and fast cars. A singer, has also recorded numerous albums.

12. William H J Cheng
(Down) US$390 million Retail
66. Married, three children
Runs the Lion Group, which has interests in plantations, steel, property.Though nicknamed “Steel King,” biggest source of wealth is his indirect stake in Chinese retailer Parkson Retail, which he chairs. Also known as Cheng Heng Jem.

13. G Gnanalingam
(Up) US$260 million Ports
64. Married, three children
Former tobacco and advertising executive, cofounded, heads Westports Malaysia, one of nation’s biggest ports. Private company valuation up because of better information from outside analysts; expects volume to contract for first time since it started as a container business in 1996. Has stake in transit hub KL Sentral.

14. Lim Kok Thay
(Down) US$225 million Gaming
57. Married, three children
Son of late Lim Goh Tong, has runGenting since 2003. Building gaming resort on Singapore’s Sentosa Island, slated to open in 2010. His Star Cruises is working with Filipino tycoon Andrew Tan’s Alliance Global to develop resort complex in Manila Bay.

15. Anthony Fernandes
(Down) US$220 million Airlines
45. Married, two children
Perennially optimistic travel tycoon on move during recession. His AirAsia, region’s largest budget airline, added flights to Bali, Taipei; secured debt financing for15 new planes. Stock down just 2% in past year. Its two-year-old long-haul discount airline AirAsia began flying from Kuala Lumpur to London in March; Richard Branson is an investor.

16. Mokhzani Mahathir
(Down) US$215 million Oil services
48. Married, five children
Son of former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad runs petroleum company Kencana; former chairman switched roles and redesignated chief executive in September. Investors include Quek Leng Chan (No 6). Recently became chairman of fibre optic cable outfit Opcom Holdings, replacing his brother, its founder, who was named deputy international trade and industry minister. Also Malaysian Grand Prix chief, authorised Porsche dealer.

17. Lee Oi Hian
(Down) US$210 million Diversified
58. Married, four children
Chief executive of Kuala Lumpur Kepong, involved in plantation, property, retail. Bought palm oil business, Ladang Perbadanan-Fima last year; disposed of stake in Barry Callebaut Malaysia. Its Crabtree & Evelyn brand being hit by economic downturn. Also chairs Malaysia Palm Oil Council, chemicals company Batu Kawan; serves as director of UK chemicalsmaker Yule Catto & Co plc.

18. Chan Fong Ann
(New) US$209 million Palm oil
78. Married
Joined board of Lee Shin Cheng’s palm oil group, IOI 1985; remains a non executive director and one of its biggest individual shareholders with a nearly 3% stake.

19. Kamarudin Meranun
(Down) US$205 million Airlines
48. Married, five children
Deputy CEO of AirAsia, which he cofounded with Fernandes (No 15). Also close partner with Fernandes in several other businesses including AirAsia X, in which he owns a bigger stake; Tune Hotels, which has five locations and is opening seven more; and Tune Money.

20. Chong Chook Yew
(Down) US$200 million Real estate
87. Widowed, four children
Columbia University grad has run family’s Selangor Properties since 2000. Stock down just 5% in past year, buoyed by successful housing project in Claremont, Australia.

21. Chen Lip Keong
(New) US$195 million Gaming
Founded NagaCorp in 1995, the year he obtained 70-year gaming license in Cambodia; built country’s largest gaming resort, Naga World. Listed in Hong Kong in 2006. Serves as economic advisor to Cambodia’s prime minister. Controlling shareholder and president of Malaysia tourism company, Karambunai. Trained medical doctor, headed Composite Technology Research, aerospace outfit owned by Malaysian government, for seven years.

22. Lee Swee Eng
(Down) US$190 million Oil services
53. Married
Runs KNM Group, which provides services and equipment to oil and gas industry; stock dropped by more than half in past year. In September announced joint venture with France’s Prosernat to form KPN Gas Technology. Fortune includes shares belonging to wife, Gan Siew Liat, head of human resources.

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, May 29, 2009.