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Thread: Tycoons take a bath as markets run dry

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    Default Tycoons take a bath as markets run dry,00.html?

    Published October 14, 2008

    Tycoons take a bath as markets run dry

    Most have seen the value of their stockholdings shrink dramatically


    (SINGAPORE) They aren't living hand to mouth just yet, but it must feel like it.

    Thirteen of Singapore's biggest tycoons have shed at least $6.7 billion in net worth since the start of the year - each has lost almost 55 per cent on average.

    That's according to rough and ready calculations by BT from Bloomberg and annual report data. The losses are based just on the paper value of their holdings in some of Singapore's biggest blue chips, and doesn't include possible loss of value in other assets, such as property or financial investments.

    On the wrong end of the list is Kwek Leng Beng and family's holding in property firm City Developments through Hong Leong Holdings, Hong Leong Investment Holdings and Hong Realty - collectively about 320 million shares, or 35.3 per cent of the company, and worth about $4.4 billion at the start of the year.

    Yesterday, the same shares traded at $7.20, valuing them at $2.3 billion - down 47.5 per cent. Mr Kwek and his family were estimated to be worth US$1.2 billion when Forbes magazine published its latest Singapore rich list in August.

    Other property magnates have also lost heavily in the general selldown of the sector.

    Ho Bee Group's Chua Thian Poh is down 66 per cent so far this year. His 474 million shares in the company were worth $235 million yesterday, down from almost $700 million at the start of the year as the share price plummeted to less than 50 cents, pulling the firm into penny status.

    They have been joined there by SC Global and Hotel Properties Ltd. SC Global's Simon Cheong and HPL's Ong Beng Seng, whose holdings were worth almost half a billion dollars each at the start of the year, were yesterday down 80 per cent and 72 per cent respectively.

    Elsewhere, veteran banker Wee Cho Yaw is poorer by almost $1 billion, although the 79-year-old chairman of United Overseas Bank group is still sitting pretty on almost $4 billion in shares. UOB has been largely spared this year, with its shares losing just 20 per cent to date. Forbes estimated that Mr Wee and his family were worth US$3.6 billion in August.

    Wilmar chairman and chief executive officer Kuok Khoon Hong has gone off the billionaire list, at least in terms of the value of his holdings in the palm oil giant. His deemed holdings, stated as 313.2 million shares in the company's latest annual report, were worth $761.1 million yesterday, down from $1.68 billion at the beginning of the year.

    Wilmar's share price has more than halved since January. Much of the damage came in the last three months as falling commodity prices prompted a re-rating of plantation plays.

    Also suffering in the commodity carnage is Olam's Sunny Verghese, whose shares were yesterday worth half of the $250 million they could have fetched 10 months ago, but even then managed to slip Mr Verghese into this year's Forbes top 40.

    Another former billionaire is Raffles Education founder Chew Hua Seng. His 805 million shares (including those held in a trust) were worth $1.49 apiece in January. Yesterday, they traded at 55.5 cents, or less than $450 million for the lot.

    Out of the Forbes rich list, though, was healthy lifestyle product maker Ron Sim. OSIM's share price has collapsed to 11 cents from 60 cents. Mr Sim's holdings were worth barely $18 million yesterday, down from almost $100 million.

    Tech entrepreneurs Wong Ngit Leong and Sim Wong Hoo also lost their centimillion status, at least in terms of worth measured in share value. Venture Corp has lost almost 60 per cent of its share price this year, while Mr Sim's Creative Tech has fared slightly better - his 23 million shares are now worth just $87 million.
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