PETALING JAYA: Tycoons on the 2023 Forbes list of Malaysia’s 50 Richest saw their combined wealth increasing to US$81.6bil (RM376.3bil) from US$80.5bil (RM371.2bil) a year ago.
The marginal increase of 1.4% in their collective fortunes came despite a dip in the stock market and the decline in the value of the ringgit.
Overall, 19 fortunes were up and nearly half were down, according to a statement from Forbes Asia.
Forbes Asia noted that despite Malaysia’s post-pandemic revival, the stock market fell 8%, and the ringgit was down by nearly 2% since the fortunes were last measured.
The Kuok Group founder Robert Kuok held on to his title as Malaysia’s richest person, a position he has held for more than a quarter of a century.
Kuok, the biggest gainer in dollar terms this year, was one of only two persons on the list with a double-digit fortune of US$11.8bil (RM54.4bil), up from US$11bil (RM50.7bil) last year.
The other was Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan, executive chairman of Hong Leong Group, who remained as the second richest, with a fortune worth US$10.2bil (RM47bil), up from US$10.1bil (RM46.6bil) last year.
Metals magnate Tan Sri Koon Poh Keong and his siblings remained in third place, with a combined wealth of US$5.8bil (RM26.7bil), down nearly 7% from US$6.2bil (RM28.6bil) last year.
This was in line with the fall in the share price of their company, Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd, South-East Asia’s largest integrated aluminum producer, amid higher raw material and freight costs.
Taking the fourth spot was T Ananda Krishnan of Maxis Bhd, whose net worth rose US$400mil (RM1.8bil) to US$5.4bil (RM24.9bil).
Forbes Asia noted that among the big gainers on this year’s list were father-and-son duo, Tan Sri Yaw Teck Seng and Datuk Seri Yaw Chee Ming, who control Sarawak timber giant Samling Group.
They jumped to No. 16 from No. 32 last year, as their wealth more than doubled to US$1.25bil (RM5.8bil) on new information about their private assets.
Former math teacher Chia Song Kun, executive chairman of his family’s seafood firm, QL Resources Bhd, returned to the rank at the No. 10 spot with a net worth of US$1.8bil (RM8.3bil) after a seven-year gap.
This was driven by a nearly 20% rise in the company’s shares and the inclusion of his broader family’s stakes.
Meanwhile, Forbes Asia noted that two private equity-backed tycoons got a boost from landmark deals.
Tan Sri David Kong Hon Kong, founder of funeral services provider Nirvana Asia Group, ranked No. 23, with a net worth of US$860mil (RM4bil), after a boost from the proposed sale by private-equity firm CVC Capital Partners of its stake at an estimated valuation of US$2bil (RM9.2bil).
Tan Sri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim, whose Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd operates the second-largest offshore services helicopter fleet in Asia-Pacific, bought back investment firm KKR & Co Inc’s 21% stake, and was now ranked No. 24 richest, with a net worth estimated at US$825mil (RM3.8bil), up 27% from last year.According to Forbes Asia, the five new faces in the Malaysia’s 50 Richest list this year included property magnates Datuk Seri Chiau Beng Teik, founder of Chin Hin Group, at No. 29 with a net worth of US$665mil (RM3.1bil); and Datuk Dr Yu Kuan Chon, a medical doctor, who runs his family’s YNH Property Bhd, at No. 39 with US$430mil (RM2bil).
The other newcomers are Datuk Ong Soon Ho, founder of agrochemicals group Hextar Global Bhd, at No. 32 with US$630mil (RM2.9bil); and Goh Nan Kioh, who owns investment firm Mega First Corp Bhd and has a stake in D&O Green Technologies Bhd, which makes light-emitting diodes for the automotive sector, at No. 40 with US$425mil (RM1.9bil).
Forbes Asia said the fortune of the late Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow, a veteran banker and founder of Public Bank Bhd, who died in December 2022, was now listed under his children, the Teh siblings. They ranked the fifth richest, with US$5.2bil (RM24bil).
Forbes Asia said Malaysia’s economy was expected to grow at a more moderate pace this year, after registering a robust growth of 8.7% in 2022 on the back of a rebound in domestic consumer spending.