Friday, July 27, 2012

Saverin among newcomers to S'pore's rich list


Straits Times: Fri, Jul 27

HOTEL and supermarket chain magnates were among eight newcomers joining familiar names on Singapore's rich list this year.

The new faces on the Forbes Rich List include 30-year-old Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin at No. 8 with a net worth of US$2.2 billion (S$2.75 billion). He has been in Singapore since 2009.

Five of the eight made their fortunes from property and hospitality.

'Hotel owners especially are benefiting from the rising influx of tourists into Singapore, such as discount hospitality tycoon Choo Chong Ngen, who owns the Hotel 81 chain and debuts on list,' said Ms Naazneen Karmali, the India editor of Forbes Asia.

The 60-year-old Mr Choo is at No. 25 with a net worth of US$690 million.

Other newcomers include property magnates Raj Kumar, 58, and his son, 29-year- old Kishin RK, who run RB Capital, at No. 11 with US$1.5 billion.

Mr Raj Kumar's brother, Mr Asok Kumar Hiranandani, 57, is at No. 19 with US$910 million. Mr Hiranandani chairs the Royal Group, which is building a 135-room Sofitel So Hotel near Lau Pa Sat, due to open next year.

Known as the Royal Brothers, they divided their empire between themselves last year.

India-born Bhupendra Kumar Modi, 63, better known as BK Modi, is on the list for the first time at No. 23 with US$755 million.

The chairman of Singapore-listed S i2i became a citizen in January.

'I'm glad to be on the Singapore list as I want to contribute to Singapore's growth,' he told The Straits Times.

'I just became a citizen and I would like to grow my wealth here.'

Supermarket chain Sheng Siong's chief executive Lim Hock Chee, 50, also makes his first appearance, after taking his company public.

From his humble beginnings running a pork stall, he is now ranked at No. 35 with an estimated net worth of US$345 million. Sheng Siong is developing lower-priced private labels for the mass market.

But there were no changes at the top.

The No. 1 spot was still held by brothers Robert and Philip Ng with their combined estimated net worth of US$9.2 billion.

Property developer Far East Organization was founded by their father Ng Teng Fong, who died in 2010.

The Khoo family, which controls the Goodwood Group of Hotels, is Singapore's second-richest with wealth of US$6.7 billion.

Patriarch Khoo Teck Puat had left his fortune to his 14 children in 2004.

United Overseas Bank chairman Wee Cho Yaw, 83, came in third with a fortune of US$4.7 billion, up 12 per cent from last year as he boosted his stake in property developer UOL.

Overall, the 40 wealthiest people here are collectively worth US$59.4 billion, up 9 per cent from US$54.4 billion last year, says Forbes Asia magazine, which compiles the annual list.

It includes Singaporeans and permanent residents.

Property and hospitality feature prominently among the wealthiest.

'Real estate, more than any other sector, seems to have held up. Several of the real estate-linked fortunes have fared better than others,' said Forbes' Ms Karmali.

Other than the Ng brothers from Far East, other tycoons making their wealth from property include the Kwee brothers behind Pontiac Land, Hong Leong Group head Kwek Leng Beng, Yanlord Land's Zhong Sheng Jian, and Ho Bee Investment's Chua Thian Poh.

Budget hotel owner Koh Wee Meng, 49, is ranked No. 15 after shares of his Fragrance Group surged. He is now worth US$1.25 billion.

Several on the list have seen their wealth increase, including Popiah King Sam Goi.

Businessman Oei Hong Leong's estimated wealth doubled in the past year to US$765 million, making him the 22nd- richest in Singapore.

Forbes said this was due to new information about his holdings of corporate bonds and a mansion here.

Mr Oei also recently bought and quickly sold a 21 per cent stake in plastics and metals trader Intraco at a US$1 million profit.

  
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