FIVE Malaysian billionaires have made it to Forbes 18th annual list of the world's richest people.
Sibu-based timber tycoon Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King, 68, of Rimbunan Hijau Group, joins familiar faces Sugar King Robert Kuok, Ananda Krishnan, Lim Goh Tong and Quek Leng Chan in the latest list.
The richest Malaysian, Robert Kuok, who currently resides in Hong Kong, is ranked 111th in Forbes list. His net worth is estimated at US$4.2bil.
Forbes describes Kuok, 81, as a quintessential Asian businessman whose reach extends across the region. His empire includes the Shangri-La hotel chain, the South China Morning Post daily in Hong Kong, and real estate developer Kerry Properties.
He began with trading rice, and then sugar, in Malaysia in the 1950s and 1960s.
Following is 65-year-old Ananda Krishnan in 147th spot, with a net worth of US$3.2bil.
Forbes said the fortunes of this Harvard Business School graduate were soaring. “His Malaysia-based satellite TV service provider orchestrated a successful initial public offering in October last year, adding another US$1bil to his net worth,” the magazine noted.
It added that Ananda's mobile phone service provider, Maxis Communications, also continued to perform well, much to the delight of investors. His group also controls racetrack betting and lottery systems in Malaysia via Tanjong Plc.
Malaysia's casino king, Lim Goh Tong, 86, and Quek Leng Chan and family are placed joint 262nd.
Forbes estimated Lim's wealth at US$2.1bil.
Over the past 40 years, this former public works contractor had turned his idea of a hilltop resort on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur into one of the biggest casinos in the world, Forbes said. Goh's Genting Resorts now boasts more than 6,000 rooms and 14 million patrons a year.
On Quek Leng Chan, whose family wealth is estimated at US$2.1bil, Forbes said that under his aegis, Hong Leong Group Malaysia had been transformed into one of the leading financial conglomerates in Asia.
Quek's Guoco Group, whose shares are traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is a leading real estate developer and financial services firm with operations throughout Asia.
Quek oversees the group's Malaysian operations, while a cousin manages the Singaporean operations. The family businesses are linked via interlocking ownership stakes.
Tiong, the latest Malaysian billionaire to be added to the Forbes list, is involved in mining and lumber-related businesses. With a net worth of US$1bil, he is ranked 552nd.
The Rimbunan Hijau group that he controls is a timber giant with concessions in Papua New Guinea, central Africa, Brazil, New Zealand and Malaysia. In the past decade, Tiong has also become a media mogul, with interests in Chinese-language newspapers in Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Forbes said Tiong was now looking to boost the circulation of his newspaper Ming Pao in the United States, particularly in San Francisco.
Forbes has listed a record 587 billionaires, 64 of them newcomers, this year.
Among them are some surprises. In a fairy tale as fantastic as her popular Harry Potter series, is former welfare mother Joanne Kathleen Rowling, making her debut on Forbes list.
So are two geeks who have barely turned 30, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who created the ultra popular Google Internet search engine, and are expected to take their company public this year.
After two years of falling fortunes, the collective net worth of the world's wealthiest jumped half a trillion dollars in the past year, to US$1.9 trillion.
The biggest gainer in sheer dollars has been Warren Buffett, who added US$12.4bil to his net worth, and is now only a few billion dollars shy of ending Bill Gates' ten-year reign as the richest person in the world.