SINGAPORE – More than half of the tycoons on the 2017 Forbes Malaysia Rich List appeared unfazed and saw their fortunes rise despite tough times.
Tan Sri Robert Kuok retained the top spot on the list for the 12th consecutive year with a net worth of US$11.4 billion (RM50.7 billion), up from US$10 billion previously.
The 93-year old patriarch of the Kuok Group controls an empire that includes palm oil, shipping and property.
Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan, who chairs privately held conglomerate Hong Leong Co (Malaysia), moved up one spot to number two with a net worth of US$6.8 billion, up from US$5.3 billion last year.
Quek replaced Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan, who slipped to third spot this year as his wealth declined 12.2 per cent to US$6.5 billion amid uncertainty around his debt-laden Indian telecom firm, Aircel.
While the fortune of gaming tycoon Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay (number six, US$4.45 billion) declined slightly, mainly due to a weaker ringgit, the share price of his Genting Bhd had risen since November 2016.
Genting Malaysia is expected to roll out more upgrades this year and its long awaited 20th Century Fox movie-inspired theme park – the world’s first – at the group’s flagship Resorts World Genting, located just outside Kuala Lumpur.
The biggest percentage gainer on this year’s list is gaming tycoon and property developer Tan Sri Dr Chen Lip Keong at 11th spot and a wealth valued at US$1.6 billion.
His wealth rose 158 per cent, putting him back in the billionaire ranks as his expanding Cambodian casino was building more links to China’s tourism sector.
Another notable gainer is Tan Sri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim (26th, US$600 million), whose fortune soared 145 per cent as firmer oil prices benefitted his helicopter chartering business which services the oil and gas sector.
Funeral services innovator Tan Sri David Kong Hon Kong (24th, US$700 million), was another big winner, moving up 10 spots from last year’s list after taking his company private in a US$1.1 billion deal.
Property tycoon Tan Sri Desmond Lim Siew Choon (16th, US$1 billion) joined the billionaire ranks for the first time with a 10.5 per cent increase in his net worth.
Co-Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer of Catcha Group Patrick Grove (35th, US$400 million) is featured on the cover of the latest issue of Forbes Asia.
Grove, who goes by the motto of “Disrupting Things Daily,” is looking to shake up the subscription video-on-demand industry with his two-year old startup, Iflix.
Among the newcomers to this year’s list are brothers Koon Poh Ming and Datuk Koon Poh Keong (13th, US$1.05 billion), who are the two biggest shareholders of Press Metal, Southeast Asia’s largest integrated aluminum producer.
Shares of the company surged nearly 2.5 times in the past year, giving the company a market capitalisation of US$2 billion.
Also new to the list is Wong Thean Soon (39th, US$330 million), thanks to his listed electronic services company MyEG Services.
Wong launched the company in 2000 to improve interactions between Malaysian citizens and the government in areas such as immigration, licencing, utilities and tax payments.
Datuk Loh Kian Chong (50th, US$210 million), whose conglomerate has interests in motor vehicles and palm oil, suffered the biggest loss in percentage terms on this year’s list.
His net worth fell by 24 per cent, nearly knocking him off the list.
The two listees who dropped off from this year’s list are palm oil tycoon Datuk Freddy Lim Nyuk Sang and condom maker Goh Siang.
This year, the only woman who qualified for the list is 94-year old Co-Founder of Selangor Properties Puan Sri Chong Chook Yew at number 43, with a net worth of US$285 million.
The minimum net worth to make the list this year is US$210 million, up from US$195 million.
The list was compiled using information obtained from the individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, private data bases, government agencies and other sources.
Net worth was based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on Feb 17.
Private companies were valued by using financial ratios and other comparisons with similar publicly traded companies.
The full list can be found at www.forbes.com/malaysia, as well as, in the latest issue of Forbes Asia, available at newsstands now.