Kuok still No 1 as wealth of Malaysia’s 50 richest falls 10%


THE combined wealth of tycoons on the 2022 Forbes list of Malaysia’s 50 richest fell 10% from a year ago to US$80.5 billion (RM353.39 billion).

Overall, 30 on the list saw their wealth decline, according to a statement from Forbes Asia today.

The complete list can be found at www.forbes.com/malaysia, as well as in the June issue of Forbes Asia.

“Buoyed partly by a recovery in domestic demand, Malaysia’s economy grew 5% in the first quarter of 2022, overcoming pandemic pains as well as the impact of flash floods in December.

“While the stock market dipped slightly in the past 12 months, currency fluctuations saw the ringgit drop 6%,” the magazine said.

Although Kuok group founder Tan Sri Robert Kuok (picture) still holds his long-standing No 1 spot, his fortune dropped to US$11 billion from US$12.2 billion last year.

Hong Leong Co (M) Bhd chairman Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan was the biggest gainer in dollar terms and consolidated his position as Malaysia’s second richest person with US$10.1 billion.

He added US$500 million to his net worth of US$9.6 billion last year.

Tan Sri Koon Poh Keong and his siblings, who control aluminium giant Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd, remained in third position with US$6.2 billion, nearly flat from a year ago.  

Rounding out the top five are Public Bank Bhd founder and chairman Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow (US$5.7 billion) and Ananda Krishnan (US$5 billion), whose holdings include stakes in telecom outfit Maxis Bhd and oilfield services provider Bumi Armada Bhd.

Malaysia’s rubber glovemakers, who were among last year’s biggest winners, faced a stark reality check, as demand for personal protective gear deflated as the pandemic abated, knocking down shares of their companies.

The wealth of Kuan Kam Hon of Hartalega Holdings Bhd (No 11, US$1.9 billion) and Top Glove Corp Bhd’s Lim Wee Chai (No 14, US$1.4 billion) fell the most in dollar terms.

Husband-and-wife duo Stanley Thai and Cheryl Tan of Supermax Corp Bhd (No 45) saw the biggest percentage drop in their wealth, which shrank by more than two-thirds to US$340 million.

The collective wealth of this group of five, which includes Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd’s Lim Kuang Sia (No 24, US$740 million) and Wong Teek Son of Riverstone Holdings Ltd (No 30, US$565 million), was down more than US$5.7 billion.

Indonesia’s temporary ban on edible oil exports amid a drop in Malaysia’s palm oil production also resulted in windfall gains for tycoons in that sector.

The fortune shared by US-educated brothers Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian and Datuk Lee Hau Hian (No 12, US$1.6 billion) got a boost of more than a third as shares of their company Batu Kawan Bhd and its plantation subsidiary soared on rising profits.  

Tan Sri Ling Chiong Ho (No 36, US$425 million), one of two returnees this year, made a comeback after a four-year gap as shares of Sarawak Oil Palm Bhd, the flagship of his Shin Yang group, rallied.

Meanwhile, the March listing of dairy producer Farm Fresh Bhd propelled Loi Tuan Ee (No 43), who shares a US$380 million fortune with two siblings, onto the list for the first time.  

The company, which Loi and his brother Tuan Kin started in 2007 and which went on to get the backing of Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Bhd, has five dairy farms in Malaysia and one in Australia.

The minimum net worth to make the list was US$255 million, down from US$315 million in 2021.

Forbes Asia compiled the list using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, annual reports and analysts.

The ranking lists both individual and family fortunes, including those shared among relatives.  

“Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded. Net worths were based on stock prices and exchange rates as at the close of markets on May 20, 2022.

“The list can also include foreign citizens with business, residential or other ties to the country, or citizens who do not reside in the country but have significant business or other ties to the country,” it said.