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Forbes released its inaugural “Malaysia’s 50 Richest” list on April 16, revealing that the combined wealth of the nation’s 50 richest was up by a modest 2% this year. 

Most are familiar faces, but four newbies have joined the list this year. There are also some missing names which had made the cut last year.

Familiar faces

Some familiar faces didn’t budge at all from their positions on the previous year’s Forbes Malaysia’s 50 Richest list.

100-year-old business tycoon Robert Kuok continues to rank No.1 on the list with a net worth of US$11.5 billion. 

Kuok, one of the world’s oldest billionaires, founded the Kuok Group 75 years ago in Johor Bahru as a modest business trading sugar, rice, and wheat flour, and built it into a thriving conglomerate.

He is also best known for founding the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts chain in 1971.

Remaining at No.2 with US$8.8 billion is Quek Leng Chan, executive chairman of Hong Leong Group, who retained his ranking despite a dip in his net worth from US$10.2 billion last year.

He inherited part of his fortune from his father, one of three brothers who started a banking group in the 1920s.

Who popped off

According to Forbes, Francis Yeoh and his siblings saw the biggest increase in their personal fortunes among the 22 fortunes that were up this year. 

Francis Yeoh’s wealth history according to Forbes

They more than tripled their combined fortune to US$4.7 billion and jumped seven spots on the list to No.7. 

Shares of their flagship YTL Corp Bhd, which partnered with US tech giant Nvidia to build AI infrastructure at its data centre park in Johor, have been on a roll.

Another notable gainer is property magnate Jeffrey Cheah, whose Sunway Group is betting on healthcare for future growth. 

Cheah more than doubled his wealth to US$2.4 billion to enter the top 10 for the first time, sitting at No.8.

Jeffrey Cheah’s wealth history according to Forbes

Other fortunes in the top five saw a reshuffle with the Teh siblings.

In banking, the heirs of the late Teh Hong Piow of Public Bank fame saw a slight gain in their combined wealth to US$5.4 billion from US$5.3 billion in the previous year. This puts them at No.3 in the list.

The Teh siblings overtook Press Metal Aluminium’s Koon Poh Keongand his siblings, who were bumped to No.5 with a net worth of US$5.3billion, down from US$5.8billion in 2023, amid weaker demand and prices for the metal.

In the property sector, IOI Group’s brothers Lee Yeow Chor and Lee Yeow Seng rose to fourth place on the list with US$5.35 billion from US$4.6 billion in 2023. This is the first time they made it into the top five. 

Under the leadership of younger sibling Yeow Seng, IOI Properties has quietly built up its Singapore portfolio, Forbes shared. It’s now preparing to open a multibillion-dollar office complex in the city’s central business district.

There are also four newcomers in this year’s list, among them are two sets of heirs. 

The Chen family came in at No.18 with US$1.1 billion after inheriting the wealth of casino tycoon Chen Lip Keong, who passed away in December.

The late Chen founded NagaWorld, which holds a casino licence in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh running to 2065, with a guaranteed monopoly until 2035.

The other newcomer coming in at No.12 with US$1.6 billion is the heir of the Gnanalingam family, following the death of ports magnate G. Gnanalingam last July.

The Gnanalingam family gets the bulk of their wealth from a stake in Westports Holdings, one of three main port operators in the Strait of Malacca.

Lim Siow Jin, founder and executive chairman of DXN Holdings, a maker of traditional medicines and herbal products that he set up in 1995 in Malaysia, is also another new face in the list.

DXN manufactures its products in 10 factories across Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico.

Lim listed DXN in 2003 but took it private in 2011. In 2023, he relisted the company on Bursa Malaysia.

Co-founder of the NationGate Holdings, Ooi Eng Leong, is the final newcomer in this year’s list.

NationGate Holdings raised US$35 million from an IPO in 2023.

Dropped off

The minimum net worth to qualify for the list was US$320 million, up from US$315 million in 2023.

Three names from last year did not meet the cutoff, including property developer Yu Kuan Chon as shares of his YNH Property plummeted amid financial concerns.

Another missing name is Kong Choon Soon, who is the co-founder and managing director of United Overseas Australia (UOA).

He co-founded the company in 1971 and spearheaded its rapid growth in Malaysia and Vietnam through developing and running residential and commercial properties. UOA also operates hotels and restaurants.

The last person not making it to Forbes Malaysia’s 50 richest 2024 list is Steven Siaw Kok Tong who co-founded the electronics company ViTrox in 2000 with his former colleague at HP Malaysia.

ViTrox manufactures automated vision inspection equipment for the semiconductor and electronic packaging industries. Its net profit was up 18% and revenue rose to 10% in 2022 despite challenges in the global semiconductor industry.

  • Read the complete list of Malaysia’s 50 Richest by Forbes here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about billionaires here.

Featured Image Credit: Kuok Group, Sunway Group, and YTL Corporation / Robert Kuok, Jeffrey Cheah, and Francis Yeoh

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)