Sugar King of Asia, Robert Kuok remains richest in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Sugar King of Asia, Tan Sri Robert Kuok with former Governor of Malaysia’s central bank, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz. File photo courtesy of BERNAMA

By Massita Ahmad

SINGAPORE, March 14 (Bernama) — Robert Kuok retains his number one spot on the 2019 Forbes Malaysia Rich List with a net worth of US$12.8 billion despite a fall in his wealth by US$2 billion, according to Forbes Asia.

In releasing the 2019 Forbes Malaysia Rich List on Thursday, Forbes Asia said overall, 30 Malaysian tycoons saw their wealth shrink while only 11 enjoyed gains.

Meanwhile, Quek Leng Chan of Hong Leong (Malaysia) added US$2.2 billion to his wealth and remains at No. 2 with a net worth of US$9.4 billion.

Teh Hong Piow of Public Bank gained US$700 million, rising one spot to No. 3 this year with a net worth of US$6.7 billion.

Rounding out the top five on the list are Ananda Krishnan at No. 4 with US$6.2 billion, whose net worth is down by US$900 million as shares in his energy service provider Bumi Armada fell by 78 per cent in the year to March 1.

Lee Shin Cheng of IOI Corporation and IOI Properties takes the fifth spot on the list, as his wealth fell by US$200 million to US$5.4 billion.

Wong Thean Soon, at No. 48, suffered the biggest loss on the list in percentage terms as his net worth plunged 63 per cent to US$280 million.

Shares of his company My E.G. Services, which provides online access to government services, were hit after last year’s election on the perception that it was linked too closely to the outgoing government.

A big investor in the company, Dr Norraesah Mohamad, the only woman on the list last year, fell off the rankings.

Other tycoons who saw their wealth fall include Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary who maintains his ranking at No. 12 despite a US$200 million decline in wealth to US$1.7 billion.

Shares of his infrastructure-linked firms fell amidst an ongoing review of Malaysia’s mega-infrastructure projects.

Another tycoon who suffered a setback was Genting chairman Lim Kok Thay, who was at No. 7 with US$4.4 billion.

He slipped one spot down from No. 6 last year as his fortune fell by US$300 million.

Newcomer Abdul Kadier Sahib enters the list for the first time at No. 49 with a net worth of US$275 million.

He is a director at Serba Dinamik Holdings, an oil-and-gas-services supplier that went public in 2017 and has seen its stock soar.

The company’s founder, Dr Mohd Abdul Karim Abdullah, who was at No. 40 with US$345 million, debuted a year ago and saw his net worth rise by 11 per cent this year.

According to Forbes Asia, there are two returnees on this year’s list.

Kua Sian Kooi of KSK Group rejoins the list at No. 35 with a net worth of US$420 million, while Loh Kian Chong of Oriental Holdings returns to the list at No. 45 with a net worth of US$320 million.

The minimum net worth to make the list this year is US$250 million, down from US$300 million last year.

The list was compiled using information from the individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, private data bases, government agencies such as the Companies Commission of Malaysia, and other sources.

Net-worth numbers are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on Feb 28.

Private companies were valued by using financial ratios and other comparisons with similar publicly traded companies.

The estimates include a spouse’s wealth, and where the person is the company founder, they also include the wealth of sons and daughters that’s derived from that company.

In cases in which the fortunes of family members are based on the same company, these members are combined into one listing, as long as each of them has enough wealth to qualify for the list on his or her own.

The full list can be found in the latest issue of Forbes Asia, which is already available on newsstands.