Robert Kuok retains top spot in Forbes Malaysia rich list

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Malaysia's slowing economy, now getting hit by Covid-19 outbreak, has taken a toll on its tycoons, according to Forbes Asia in releasing it’s 2020 Forbes Malaysia Rich List on Thursday (March 5).

Forbes Asia said the wealth of the country’s 50 richest fell for a second straight year, due to a weaker ringgit and a nearly 10% decline in the country’s benchmark stock index.

Their collective net worth of US$79bil (RM329bil) is down 7% from a year ago, it said.

Nonagenarian business legend Robert Kuok takes the top spot again with a net worth of US$11.5bil (RM48bil), a position he has held for over two decades.

Kuok is among four listees whose wealth shrank by more than US$1bil (RM4.16bil) in the past year.

Retaining his spot on the No.2 list is Quek Leng Chan of Hong Leong group, who added US$300mil (RM1.25bil) to his fortune of US$9.7bil (RM40.4bil).

Ananda Krishnan of Maxis takes the third spot with a net worth of US$5.9bil (RM24.6bil), down US$300mil (RM1.25bil) from the year before.

The hardest-hit in dollar terms was banking tycoon Teh Hong Piow - No. 5, US$4.85bil (RM18.7bil).

The founder of Public Bank saw his fortune buffeted by headwinds in Malaysia’s banking industry, slipping two spots from No. 3 last year.

Teh saw US$1.85bil (RM7.7bil) shaved off his wealth since the last list as shares in Public Bank, the country’s second-largest bank by market value, declined roughly 30%.

In addition to Kuok and Teh, Lim Kok Thay (No. 7, US$3.2bil (RM13.3bil) and Hap Seng’s Lau Cho Kun (No. 10, US$2.3bil (RM9.6bil) also saw their wealth slid by more than US$1bil (RM4.16bil) as their fortunes fell by US$1.2bil (RM5bil) and US$1.1bil (RM4.6bil) respectively.

AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes (No. 41) and Kamarudin Meranun (No. 43) saw more than a third of their fortunes dropped to US$335mil (RM1.4bil) and US$315mil (RM1.31bil).

In all, 22 listees suffered a slide in their net worth from a year ago, but an equal number were modestly better off.

Among the latter group was casino mogul Chen Lip Keong, who moved into the top five for the first time at No. 4.

Booming growth at Chen’s NagaWorld casino complex in Cambodia, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, helped push his net worth up 6% to US$5.3bil (RM22bil).

Another notable gainer was Kuan Kam Hon (No. 9), who controls Hartalega Holdings, the world’s largest maker of nitrile gloves.

His net worth grew US$400mil (RM1.66bil) to US$2.8bil (RM11.6bil), from US$2.4bil (RM10bil) a year ago.

There are five newcomers on the list, the richest of whom are a pair of inheritors.

Debuting at No. 6 are brothers Lee Yeow Chor and Lee Yeow Seng, who share a combined US$4.8bil (RM20bil) legacy left by their father Lee Shin Cheng, the architect of the IOI palm oil and property empire, who passed away last June.

Other new listees include two tech entrepreneurs: Chu Jenn Weng (No. 47, US$280mil (RM1.17bil), founder of electronics maker ViTrox; and former Hewlett-Packard engineer Oh Kuang Eng (No. 50, US$255mil (RM1.06bil), whose Mi Technovation makes semiconductor equipment.

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