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Thread: Property execs clinch top business awards

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    Default Property execs clinch top business awards

    Published March 10, 2007

    Property execs clinch top business awards

    And Olam boss takes Outstanding Chief Executive title while Inter-Roller wins Enterprise Award


    (SINGAPORE) The business of real estate has been recognised as one of the most dynamic in the past year, with two property developers taking top honours last night at the Singapore Business Awards (SBA) 2007.

    Happy winners: From left, CapitaLand China Holdings CEO Lim Ming Yan, Ho Bee Investment chairman and CEO Chua Thian Poh, Olam International CEO Sunny Verghese and Inter-Roller Engineering managing director Oon Chong Howe at the Singapore Business Awards last night

    Self-made entrepreneur Chua Thian Poh of Ho Bee Investment took the coveted Businessman of the Year award while CapitaLand China Holdings chief executive Lim Ming Yan was named as Outstanding Chief/Senior Executive of the Year (Overseas).

    The awards, which are organised by The Business Times and DHL Express (Asia-Pacific), also recognised the achievements of Sunny Verghese, CEO of Olam International, naming him Outstanding Chief Executive Officer of the Year.

    The Enterprise Award went to Inter-Roller Engineering. It was accepted by managing director Oon Chong Howe.

    Scott Price, CEO of DHL, which has backed the awards throughout their 22 years, said: 'These captains of industry, which include past SBA winners, have paved the way for a new generation of corporate leaders and entrepreneurs at the helm of Singapore's leading companies.'

    Describing the spirit of the award, Businessman of the Year Mr Chua said that being good in business had nothing to do with paper qualifications. Drive and determination alone transformed his 'little company' started in 1987 into the $1 billion concern it is today, he said.

    'After I finished my O levels, I couldn't wait to go into a business,' he said.

    Verve alone prompted him and Ho Bee Investment to outbid two other well-established property developers to become the first developer at Sentosa Cove, he maintained. So determined was he to help make Sentosa Cove a playground for rich that he even put in the only bid for the tender there - Coral Island.

    Looking back, Mr Chua said he was a little concerned that Ho Bee had emerged as the only bidder. Had he overestimated the potential of Sentosa Cove? 'I was a little worried, but then it was during the Sars period and confidence in the economy was quite low then,' he said.

    Taking risks paid off and Ho Bee is now the area's biggest developer, having bought another development site at Sentosa Cove just this week. Another perspective came from Mr Verghese of Olam International - taking the offensive in business is just as important as having an appetite for risk, he said. Accepting his award on behalf of Olam's 6,300 employees worldwide, Mr Verghese said: 'When we go into a particular business or market, we always aim to be at least the top three in that market.'

    Saying that Olam has managed to 'out-manoeuvre' its competitors to become a global business worth $4.5 billion, Mr Verghese said that to grow one's business, it is important to 'differentiate' a unique competency. 'It is so much easier to differentiate the business, then scale it (up). If you scale it first and then differentiate it later, you will always be in a problem-solving crisis mode, struggling for profitability,' he said.

    The personal sacrifices that winners of the SBA have to make to be a success are notable too. Mr Lim, the Outstanding Chief/Senior Executive of the Year (Overseas), said he was heartened that the awards recognise the efforts of Singaporean businesses overseas.

    He said: 'Given the current macro trend, and given the fact that Singapore is a small market, it is inevitable that many will be based overseas. And they have to survive and adapt in an environment that is not always pro-business.'

    Pioneering spirit is certainly one attribute that all four winners share.

    The Enterprise Award winner Inter-Roller may have felt a little dwarfed by the corporate giants with which it shared the stage. But as managing director Oon Chong Howe pointed out, Inter-Roller has 'planted Singapore's flag of quality and capability through our projects around the world'.

    Its annual turnover was last reported at $150 million but it has not stopped the company from venturing into China, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe.

    Indeed, Mr Oon recalls how Panamanian immigration officials were surprised to see a Singapore business set up in Panama when his company secured a job there last year and had to set up an office in that country.

    'We were the first,' he said with pride.

  2. #2
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    Default Ho Bee chief singled out for his vision and enterprise

    March 10, 2007


    Ho Bee chief singled out for his vision and enterprise

    Chua Thian Poh overcame early setbacks to build a company now worth over $1b

    By Erica Tay

    FAILURE MADE HIM HUNGRIER FOR SUCCESS: 'I made my first million by 21, and lost it all by 25. My early failure made me even more hungry and determined.' -- MR CHUA THIAN POH (above, with his award), 58, chairman and CEO of Ho Bee Investments, recounting his early setbacks in the property game. -- DESMOND WEE

    THE man who made a bold - and spot-on - bet years ago that the well-heeled would one day pay millions to live on Sentosa has been named Businessman of the Year.

    Mr Chua Thian Poh, 58, chairman and chief executive of Ho Bee Investments, the biggest developer at Sentosa Cove, was singled out last night for his vision and enterprise.

    'Age and education are no barriers to entrepreneurship,' said a beaming Mr Chua, who has been in business since finishing school at 16.

    Although Ho Bee is now worth more than $1 billion, with interests from London to Shanghai, Mr Chua was not shy about recounting his early setbacks in the property game.

    'I made my first million by 21, and lost it all by 25,' he said. 'My early failure made me even more hungry and determined.'

    Although he was the toast of the business community last night, Mr Chua paid tribute to an old friend, Mr Khor Thiam Beng, who helped him get back on his feet in the 1970s after he lost everything.

    'I was at the lowest point of my life and no one would grant me credit. He believed in me enough to secure me a letter of credit,' said Mr Chua.

    The spotlight was also turned on two other corporate stars last night - Mr Sunny Verghese of commodity trading giant Olam International, who was named Outstanding CEO, and CapitaLand China's boss, Mr Lim Ming Yan, the Outstanding CEO (Overseas).

    Mr Lim was feted for turning a loss-making business for CapitaLand into one of the biggest and most profitable foreign property firms in China.

    'It's wonderful that we are giving credit to Singaporeans working overseas,' said Mr Lim, who went to China when it was still considered a hardship posting.

    When he announced his Shanghai move in 2000, friends asked, 'What have you done wrong?'

    After overcoming many challenges, CapitaLand is now one of the top three international developers in Shanghai, with about 600 staff across the country.

    In accepting his award, Mr Verghese, 47, paid tribute to Olam's team of more than 6,300 worldwide.

    He was honoured for growing Olam from a start-up to a leading agricultural products player with 14 products spanning 52 countries.

    Last night's black-tie ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton also saw the Enterprise award conferred on airport baggage handler Inter-Roller Engineering.

    Inter-Roller is a growing airport logistics company which has outpaced European giants to clinch contracts from Cairo to Manchester.

    Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Raymond Lim, the guest of honour, told the audience that the Government should not be in the business of 'picking winners' in the marketplace, unless in exceptional cases such as the life sciences.

    When it comes to identifying winning businesses, 'the market is the best judge of that', he said.

    The Singapore Business Awards are organised by The Business Times and DHL.

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