PETALING JAYA: Tycoon Tan Sri Robert Kuok (pic) continues to occupy the top spot on the Forbes’ Malaysia’s rich list for the 11th straight year with a net worth of US$10.3bil (RM43.3bil) amidst a difficult year for businesses.
Kuok, 92, founder of the Kuok Group is still Malaysia’s richest man despite the pummelling of many Malaysian fortunes over the past year, said a statement released by Asia Forbes yesterday.
Kuok started out by trading rice, sugar and wheat flour.
The Kuok Group now controls an empire that includes the high-end hotel chain Shangri-La, Kerry Properties and commodities trader Wilmar.
Second on the list is telecommunication mogul Ananda Krishnan, whose wealth dipped to US$7.4bil (RM31bil), a drop of US$2.3bil (RM9.7bil).
While his flagship telecommunication Maxis shares had fallen on the Government’s proposal to redistribute and auction telecom spectrum – sparking concerns of an expensive bidding war – Astro Malaysia’s stock took a hit after Netflix entered the country in January.
The slowdown in China and the continuing political showdown were said to hurt business, while the global oil and gas depression took a toll on fortunes related to the industry.
With the stock market falling 8.7% and the ringgit losing 12.6% of its value against the US dollar, it is a difficult year for Malaysian tycoons, added the statement.
Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan, who founded privately-held conglomerate Hong Leong Group Malaysia, retained his number three position despite his net worth declining US$300mil (RM1.3bil) from a year ago to US$5.3bil (RM22bil).
On the number nine list was Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, whose net worth was half of what it was a year ago at US$1.45bil (RM6.1bil), down from US$2.9bil (RM12.2bil).
Despite the gloom, glove-making business soared.
Hartalega Holdings Bhd founder and executive chairman Kuan Kam Hon (number 11, US$1.1bil (RM4.63bil) became a new billionaire, up US$120mil (RM505mil) from last year.
Only six of last year’s 50 fortunes rose this year, while the number of billion-dollar fortunes went down from 16 last year to 12 this year, added the statement.
Technology tycoon Goh Peng Ooi took a hard hit, said the statement.
Goh’s net worth a year ago was at US$1.55bil (RM6.5bil) but in August his stock fell after an anonymous short-seller said his financial software company, Silverlake Axis, inflated its results.
Although these allegations were refuted, the damage was done. This year, Goh dropped out of the billionaire ranks and his wealth fell by 53% to US$725mil (RM3bil).
Long-time billionaire Tan Sri Vincent Tan [number 17, US$900mil (RM3.8bil)] joined Goh in losing his billionaire status, as did Tan’s brother, Tan Sri Danny Tan Chee Sing [number 13, US$975mil (RM4.1bil)].
Six people fell off this year’s list, most notably Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, who had made the cut year after year thanks to his large stake in Laura Ashley Holdings.
The complete list can be found at www.forbes.com/malaysia as well as the latest issue of Forbes Asia, available on newsstands.
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