Forbes released its inaugural “Malaysia’s 50 Richest” list on June 8, revealing that the combined wealth of Malaysia’s 50 richest was down 10% compared to a year ago.
98-year-old Robert Kuok, who has dominated the list for years, has remained at No. 1 despite his fortune falling 10% to US$11 billion.
However, it’s not all bad news for Malaysia’s tycoons. A new name has emerged on the list, as well as some familiar names that we didn’t spot last year (or even years prior).
A fresh face
Founded in 2007, Farm Fresh got its start after Loi decided to quit his job as a senior employee in a packaging firm. Following a stint in goat rearing, Loi noticed an opportunity in the dairy industry, which led to the beginning of Farm Fresh.
The dairy company went on to receive backing from Khazanah Nasional, the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia. In March 2022, the dairy producer became listed on Bursa Malaysia’s Main Market, which raised US$238 million.
This brought Loi Tuan Ee’s fortune, shared with his two siblings, to US$380 million (RM1.67 billion), making them the only newcomer to the Forbes list in 2022.
Making a comeback
Coming in at No. 49 is Yong Pang Chaun, the founder and managing director of Padini Holdings. With a net worth of US$265 million (RM1.17 billion) this year, the fashion retailer founder last made it on the list in 2020. His wealth history on Forbes dates back to 2018 when his net worth had been US$430 million.
He had gotten his start in the industry straight out of secondary school, having joined a textile merchant in Singapore. He later returned to Malaysia and set up Padini’s first venture in 1971 as a supplier of garments to department stores.
Today, Padini has 140 stores in Malaysia and abroad, and houses nine fashion labels. Padini Groups’ key subsidiaries include Vincci ladies’ Specialities Centre, Padini Corporation, Seed Corporation, Yee Fong Hung (which controls Brands Outlets), and Mikihouse Children’s Wear.
Yong’s net worth has remained the same as in 2020, but he made it onto the list this year as the minimum net worth to make the list is now RM1.12 billion, a decrease from 2021’s RM1.38 billion.
The other returnee on the list this year is Ling Chiong Ho and his siblings at No. 46. Ling started his business by plying and making tugboats. Today, that has become the Shin Yang Group, a conglomerate that builds ships, exports timber, and develops property.
According to Forbes, most of Ling’s wealth comes from a stake in the listed Sarawak Oil Palms, the flagship of his Shin Yang group where he served as a group executive chairman until March 2022. He’s now serving as a group business advisor.
With a net worth of US$425 million (RM1.87 billion), Ling’s return after four years off the list is made possible as shares of Sarawak Oil Palm rallied. (A rally is a period of sustained increases in the prices of stocks, bonds, or indices.)
This reflects the trend of windfall gains in Malaysia’s palm oil sector due to Indonesia’s temporary ban on edible oil exports.
The industry that dominated the list was categorised by Forbes as “diversified”. But if we’re talking about a sole industry, it would be manufacturing, with nine out of 50 entrepreneurs being in that industry. Real estate is a close second with eight out of 50, and the next industry would be finance and investments with four on the list.
While there have been some fluctuations on the list, most of the names on the Forbes list are still similar to last year’s, though many such as Robert Kuok are experiencing a dip in their net worths.
According to Forbes, though, our economy was buoyed partly by a recovery in domestic demand, having grown 5% in the first quarter of 2022.
Hopefully, in the remainder of the year, Malaysians (not just the richest 50) will be able to continue recovering from the effects of the pandemic.
- Read the complete list of Malaysia’s 50 Richest by Forbes here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about billionaires here.
Featured Image Credit: Ling Chiong Ho / Loi Tuan Ee / Yong Pang Chaun