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Thread: S'pore tycoons rise and fall in roller-coaster ride

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    Default S'pore tycoons rise and fall in roller-coaster ride,00.html?

    Published September 11, 2009

    S'pore tycoons rise and fall in roller-coaster ride

    19 on Forbes rich list get richer, 13 see their fortunes fall


    (SINGAPORE) There's just no stopping the rich.

    Singapore's top 40 richest people emerged with a total net worth of US$39 billion, up 22 per cent from US$32 billion a year ago, the 2009 Forbes Asia Singapore Rich List showed.

    Out of the 40, 19 tycoons on the list were richer - including six of the top 10 - while 13 saw declines in their net worths.

    This comes despite the worst financial crisis just blowing over, as calculations by Forbes took this year's stock market recovery largely into account and added some wealth that was previously undiscovered and difficult to track, a spokeswoman said.

    Still standing on top of the list is real estate magnate Ng Teng Fong.

    The 81-year-old, who started privately held Far East Organization and Hong Kong-listed property developer Sino Group, is worth a staggering US$8 billion in total, up about 15 per cent from last year.

    With the help of his sons who run the two organisations, Singapore's richest man and father of six children has more than 700 hotels, malls and condominiums in Singapore and Hong Kong to boast of.

    Jumping two spots to third place is major palm oil player Wilmar International's chief executive Kuok Khoon Hong.

    Mr Kuok - the nephew of Malaysian sugar king Robert Kuok - more than doubled his net worth to US$3.5 billion from US$1.2 billion in the previous year, after the stock of Singapore's second-largest company by market cap shot up 70 per cent as at end-August this year compared to the same period a year ago.

    This comes on the back of strong sales and expansion in its China operations, which are being spun off into a separate listing in Hong Kong that could raise as much as US$3 billion, Reuters reported.

    Mr Kuok swopped places with United Overseas Bank chairman Wee Cho Yaw, who has settled to fifth position with a net worth of US$3.1 billion, down about 15 per cent from US$3.6 billion a year ago.

    A surprise addition to the list is the four Kwee brothers, who run another privately held property developer Pontiac Land. Worth US$3.2 billion in total, they rank fourth.

    Some well-known hotels and offices developed by the brothers include Singapore's Ritz-Carlton, Conrad Centennial Singapore, the Regent Singapore, Millenia Singapore and most recently, luxury resort Capella Singapore, on Sentosa.

    'We're just stewards of what was given to us by our father and we hope we continue to honour his legacy,' said chairman Kwee Liong Tek.

    He is known to be an avid art collector who decorates properties with works by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein - famed for his 'Drowning Girl' painting - and minimalist artist Frank Stella. Oldest brother is managing director Kwee Liong Keng, who was just appointed Singapore's non-resident ambassador to Poland.

    Malaysian citizen Ong Beng Seng - who recently clinched the sole dealership for Ferraris - has entered this rich list together with wife and head of Club 21, Christina. Sitting pretty on US$700 million in net worth, they are at number 10.

    Oei Hong Leong's fortunes are estimated at US$200 million, slipping just 5 per cent and 'based on only the most transparent holdings', Forbes said, adding that Mr Oei declined to share details of how much he has left after he allegedly lost some US$500 million in forex investments.

    Mr Oei - who dropped six places to the 33rd spot - is suing Citibank over claims that it gave him conflicting reports of his margin surplus, forcing him to unwind his trades at an eventual loss.

    Noticeably absent are the Kewalram Chanrai brothers who started Olam International, as they are 'apparently excluded as potential beneficiaries' of Kewalram Singapore, which owns a 23 per cent stake of Olam worth about US$700 million, said Forbes.

    The biggest loser in percentage terms was the head of Chinese shipyard Yantai Raffles Brian Chang, whose net worth plunged 71 per cent to US$160 million. Dropping from 10th position to 37th place, Mr Chang was said to have lost US$400 million after the deal to sell 30 per cent of Yantai to a Chinese company was scuppered and he ended up selling just a 10 per cent stake at a 60 per cent-discount to the original deal.

    Drop-outs from the list this year included Boustead Singapore's boss Wong Fong Fui, Thakral Corp's Kartar Singh Thakral, who are worth less than the minimum net worth of US$135 million, up from US$120 million in 2008.

    Forbes calculated public fortunes using share prices and exchange rates as of August 28. For privately held assets, the magazine estimated what they would be worth if public. This ranking includes family fortunes shared by members.

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    Sep 11, 2009 Friday

    S'pore's top 40 now richer

    Forbes says their wealth has risen from US$32b to US$39b; palm oil tycoon at No.3 makes most gains

    By Alvin Foo

    SINGAPORE'S 40 richest people saw their total wealth soar by just over a fifth from a year ago, as the stock market and property market roared back to life.

    The most spectacular gain by far was notched up by palm oil tycoon Kuok Khoon Hong, 60, who heads locally listed company Wilmar International.

    Mr Kuok's fortune surged from US$1.3 billion (S$1.8 billion) to US$3.5 billion as Wilmar's share price shot up by about 70 per cent - catapulting him from fifth most wealthy person here to third.

    The top 40 were worth a combined US$39 billion last month, up 22 per cent from US$32 billion a year earlier, according to Forbes Asia magazine's list of the richest people here released yesterday.

    Singapore's stock market has surged nearly 90 per cent since sinking to a multi-year low in March. The property sector has also bounced back to life recently.

    This year, 19 tycoons on the list were richer, including six of the top 10, while 13 saw their fortunes fall.

    Ex-remisier king Peter Lim, who remained seventh, also gained from Wilmar's stellar show. His net worth is up from US$1.1 billion to US$1.5 billion.

    The biggest loser was shipbuilder Brian Chang, 66, whose wealth sank 71 per cent to US$160 million. Forbes said his fortune dived US$400 million after a deal to sell 30 per cent of a shipyard to a Chinese company fell through, and he sold just 10 per cent at a 60 per cent discount to the original deal.

    Property magnate Ng Teng Fong, 81, who heads Far East Organization, was named the richest man here for the third year in a row. His fortune rose from US$7 billion last year to US$8 billion.

    Mr Ng was again followed by the family of the late banker Khoo Teck Puat, whose wealth slipped from US$6.1 billion to US$5.5 billion.

    After Mr Kuok at No. 3 were the Kwee brothers, who debuted at No. 4. Forbes said their shared ownership of private Pontiac Land was worth US$3.2 billion. The property developer and hotel operator owns The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore and The Regent, among others.

    United Overseas Bank chairman Wee Cho Yaw slipped from third to fifth, with his wealth dipping from US$3.6 billion to US$3.1 billion.

    One notable inclusion in the top 10 was Malaysian citizen and property and hotel magnate Ong Beng Seng, who was listed together with Singaporean wife Christina, at No. 10. They have a net worth of US$700 million.

    Aside from the Kwee brothers, other debutantes include Mr Peter Fu, who heads Kuo International - a firm with interests in oil, trading and property.

    Falcon Energy Group's Tan Pong Tyea and former Sincere Watch owner Tay Liam Wee also made the list for the first time.

    Four from last year's list were out, including Mr Kartar Singh Thakral, whose shares in Australia-listed Reit Thakral Holdings are down 60 per cent since last year.

    The minimum net worth needed to make the list this year was US$135 million, up from US$120 million last year. Public wealth was calculated using share prices and exchange rates on Aug 28, while the value of private assets was estimated.

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