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Wealth of Malaysia's 50 richest on Forbes list rises to US$81.6 billion

Business tycoon Robert Kuok, Malaysia's richest person for more than 25 years, remains at the top of the list.

3 minute read
Founder-owner of the Kuok Group, Robert Kuok, remains Malaysia's richest man. Photo: Bernama
Founder-owner of the Kuok Group, Robert Kuok, remains Malaysia's richest man. Photo: Bernama

The collective wealth of tycoons on the 2023 Forbes list of Malaysia’s 50 Richest edged up to US$81.6 billion from US$80.5 billion last year despite a dip in the stock market, according to Forbes Asia. (US$1=RM4.61)

"After rising 8.7% in 2022 on the back of a rebound in domestic consumer spending, Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow at a more moderate pace this year.

"Despite the country’s post-pandemic revival, the stock market fell 8.0% since fortunes were last measured and the ringgit was also down nearly 2.0%," it said in a statement issued today.

In the latest list, business titan Robert Kuok, who will be a centenarian in October, remains Malaysia's richest person, a position he has held for more than a quarter of a century.

Kuok, the biggest gainer in dollar terms this year, is one of only two persons on the list with a double-digit fortune of US$11.8 billion.

The other is Quek Leng Chan, executive chairman of the Malaysian arm of the privately held Hong Leong Group, who is at number two with US$10.2 billion.

"Overall, 19 fortunes were up and nearly half were down," said Forbes Asia.

Despite being in the latter category, metals magnate Koon Poh Keong and his siblings remain in third place.

Their combined wealth of US$5.8 billion is down nearly 7.0% from $6.2 billion last year, in line with the fall in shares of their company Press Metal Aluminium Holdings, Southeast Asia's largest integrated aluminum producer, amid higher raw material and freight costs.

Among the big gainers on this year's list are father-and-son duo Yaw Teck Seng and Chee Ming, who control timber giant Samling.

They surged to number 16 from number 32 last year as their wealth more than doubled to US$1.25 billion, on new information about their private assets.

Former math teacher Chia Song Kun (number 10, US$1.8 billion), executive chairman of his family’s seafood firm QL Resources, returns to the ranks after a seven-year gap on a nearly 20.0% rise in the company's shares and the inclusion of his broader family’s stakes.

"Two private equity-backed tycoons got a boost from landmark deals," said Forbes Asia.

Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim (number 24), whose Weststar Aviation Services operates the second-largest offshore services helicopter fleet in Asia-Pacific, bought back investment firm KKR's 21% stake and is now worth US$825 million, up 27% from last year.

The wealth of funeral services provider Nirvana Asia's founder, David Kong (number 23, US$860 million), rose on the proposed sale by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners of its stake at an estimated valuation of US$2 billion.

The five new faces this year include property magnates Chiau Beng Teik (number 29, US$665 million), founder of the Chin Hin Group, and Yu Kuan Chon (number 39, US$430 million), a medical doctor, who runs his family's YNH Property.

The other newcomers are Ong Soon Ho (number 32, US$630 million), founder of agrochemicals group Hextar, and Goh Nan Kioh (number 40, US$425 million), who owns investment firm Mega First and has a stake in D&O Green Technologies, which makes light-emitting diodes for the automotive sector.

Forbes Asia noted that the minimum net worth to make the list was US$315 million, up from US$255 million in 2022.

Meanwhile, the list saw Ananda Krishnan of Maxis, whose net worth rose US$400 million to US$5.4 billion, taking the fourth spot.

The fortune of Public Bank founder Teh Hong Piow, who died in December, is now listed under his children, the Teh siblings (number five, US$5.2 billion).

The complete list can be found at www.forbes.com/malaysia as well as in the June issue of Forbes Asia.

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