Entrepreneur

How Late Billionaire Ng Teng Fong Became 'King Of Orchard' - Built Over 750 S'pore Properties

Singaporeans would be familiar with iconic landmarks like The Fullerton Hotel and Orchard Road. However, it might not be commonly known that these landmarks were built by one firm: Far East Organization.

Far East Organization is the largest private property developer in Singapore.

Since its founding by late billionaire Ng Teng Fong in 1960, it has developed over 750 properties in Singapore. It also has two listed subsidiaries, Far East Orchard Limited and Yeo Hiap Seng Limited.

The patriarch of Far East Organization passed on in 2010, and the organisation is now run by the ‘Far East Brothers’ Robert and Philip Ng.

Far East Organization’s Hong Kong arm, Sino Group, is overseen by older sibling Robert and his son Daryl, while Philip oversees the Singapore interests.

According to Forbes, the two brothers are Singapore’s fifth richest, with a net worth of US$13.2 billion.

Humble Beginnings

far east organisation orchard road
The development site for Orchard Shopping Centre / Image Credit: Far East Organization

Like many first-generation Singaporeans, Ng Teng Fong came to the island from China in the 1930s, when he was just six years old.

In Singapore, the Ngs established a soya sauce factory and a grocery
shop that specialises in dried goods and specialty foods from their native village.

But the young Ng’s dreams were not limited to his family’s store. He began pursuing his ambitions of developing property in his twenties, starting with landed residential houses.

By 1962, Ng had completed one of his first major projects — 72 units of terrace houses in Jalan Pacheli.

The 1960s paved the way for the growth of Far East Organization, with new projects launched all over the island.

In the 1970s, the group moved into developing apartment buildings, which were then known as ‘bungalows in the sky’.

After building a name for Far East Organization via its residential estates, Ng set his sights on Orchard Road, kickstarting the creation of Singapore’s famed shopping belt.

Building Singapore’s Shopping Belt

far east organisation orchard road
Image Credit: Living Nomads

Orchard Road is now well-known as Singapore’s most famous shopping precinct. However, it was not always like how we know it today.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, Orchard Road was a street lined with shophouses, and Singaporeans much preferred to shop in areas like North Bridge Road.

The late Ng foresaw a need for Singapore to have a vibrant shopping street, and quickly took steps to change the facade of Orchard Road.

He started with with Far East Shopping Centre in 1974. Over the years, more shopping centres steadily popped up — from Lucky Plaza in 1978, to Far East Plaza in 1983.

To date, Far East Organization has developed nine sites on Orchard Road into major shopping malls, the most recent being Orchard Central.

Over the past 50 years, the company also held stakes in other prominent buildings on Orchard Road, including Hilton Hotel.

Since then, generations of Singaporeans have grown up visiting these malls along Orchard Road, and they have become a significant part of the city’s rapid growth.

For his contributions and efforts in transforming the famed shopping belt, Ng was hailed as the ‘King of Orchard Road’.

Reinventing A 60-Year-Old Business

cyan condominium
Cyan Condominium / Image Credit: Far East Organization

According to Far East Organization, it has completed over 750 development projects over the last 60 years.

Despite its success, it “constantly strives to break new ground in the real estate industry,” by investing in “reinventing lifestyles, creating new desires and aspirations.”

The real estate giant also has no plans to stop venturing into new developments.

Built in 2007, Novena Medical Center marks the organisation’s first foray into healthcare services in Singapore’s first public-private sector collaboration in the industry.

Its extensive portfolio covers all sorts of properties, from condominiums to hotels, shopping malls, and even medical suites.

With its huge size and roots in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, the company is likely to continue on its trajectory of growth for the next five decades and more.

Featured Image Credit: Top Leader, Far East Organization

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