Samsung's Lee family Asia's richest: Forbes

(above) Mr Kwek Leng Beng, executive chairman of Hong Leong Group.
(above) Mr Kwek Leng Beng, executive chairman of Hong Leong Group.PHOTO: HONG LEONG GROUP
(Above) Mr Jay Lee, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics.
(Above) Mr Jay Lee, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
(Above) Mr Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group.
(Above) Mr Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
(Above) Mr Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro.
(Above) Mr Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro. PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES

They have net worth of $37.5 billion; S'pore and Malaysia owners of Hong Leong are 6th

The Lee family behind South Korea's Samsung Group has topped the list of 50 richest dynasties in Asia, although the rankings are dominated by Chinese and Indian names.

Singapore's Kwek family and their Malaysian cousins, the Queks, shared sixth place on the inaugural list with a net worth of US$18.9 billion (S$26.6 billion), although their operations in the Hong Leong Group are separate from each other.

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, sitting on a fortune of US$25 billion, has been excluded from the list, which includes only families whose wealth and businesses have extended to at least three generations.

None of Mr Li's grandchildren have taken serious roles in the family business, said Forbes Asia magazine, which compiled the rankings.

"Nearly half of the richest families in Asia are of Chinese descent, yet none of the inaugural 50 is based in the mainland, where conglomerates are young, run by the first generation," it said.

  • TOP 10 RICHEST FAMILIES IN ASIA

  • LEE FAMILY FROM SOUTH KOREA (SAMSUNG):
    US$26.6 billion (S$37.5 billion)

    LEE FAMILY FROM HONG KONG (HENDERSON):
    US$24.1 billion

    AMBANI FAMILY FROM INDIA (RELIANCE):
    US$21.5 billion

    CHEARAVANONT FAMILY FROM THAILAND (CHAROEN POKPHAND):
    US$19.9 billion

    KWOK FAMILY FROM HONG KONG (SUN HUNG KAI):
    US$19.5 billion

    KWEK/QUEK FAMILIES FROM SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA (HONG LEONG):
    US$18.9 billion

    PREMJI FAMILY FROM INDIA (WIPRO):
    US$17 billion

    TSAI FAMILY FROM TAIWAN (CATHAY FINANCIAL):
    US$15.1 billion

    HINDUJA FAMILY FROM INDIA, BRITAIN (HINDUJA GROUP):
    US$15 billion

    MISTRY FAMILY FROM INDIA (SHAPOORJI PALLONJI GROUP):
    US$14.9 billion


    SIX OTHER SINGAPORE FAMILIES ON THE LIST

    KUOK FAMILY: US$10.9 billion (S$15.3 billion)

    NG FAMILY: US$7.7 billion

    KHOO FAMILY: US$6 billion

    WEE FAMILY: US$4.4 billion

    KWEE FAMILY: US$4.1 billion

    HIRANANDANI FAMILY: US$3.1 billion

    Source: Forbes Asia

Families with Indian origins hold 14 of the 50 spots on the list, which also includes those from Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Owners of Singapore's Hong Leong topped the list of regional dynasties.

Helmed by executive chairman and second-generation member Kwek Leng Beng, the group ranks among Asia's largest and most successful conglomerates, managing over $40 billion in diversified premium assets, including 13 companies listed in seven stock exchanges globally.

Grandsons of family patriarch Kwek Hong Png, Sherman and Eik Sheng, are part of the senior management team at group companies.

Across the Causeway, cousin Quek Leng Chan chairs the Malaysia business.

According to Forbes, the Ng, Khoo, Wee, Kwee and Hiranandani families, who are all based here, have a combined net worth of US$25.3 billion. The Kuok Group, which is also on the list, has a slew of companies in the region, with patriarch Robert Kuok's Singaporean nephew Kuok Khoon Hong running agribusiness group Wilmar.

Forbes said it sifted through more than 500 families while compiling the list, shortlisting only those with a minimum net worth of US$2.9 billion based on stock prices and exchange rates in September.

Korea's Lee family, with a net worth of US$26.6 billion, came out on top, while the Lee family of Hong Kong, who control Henderson Development, a leading property developer, came next with a fortune of US$24.1 billion.

The third richest are the Ambanis of India's Reliance Group with a combined net worth of US$21.5 billion, followed by Thailand's Chearavanont family with US$19.9 billion generated from the agriculture-based Charoen Pokphand group. The Kwok family, which controls Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai property empire (US$19.5 billion), rounds out the top five.

Forbes noted that a challenge for these dynasties was to keep wealth in the family, while also keeping it growing - an area which, studies show, family-owned businesses in Singapore are among the least prepared to handle in South-east Asia.

A study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in January found that only 58 per cent of Singapore families have prepared for succession. "This research has shown an over-reliance on informal structures, such as family councils, to manage succession issues," said Mr Saiful Bahari Baharom, chief executive of Labuan IBFC, which commissioned the EIU study.


Correction note: In the original article, we stated that Sherman Kwek and Kwek Eik Sheng are grandsons of Quek Leng Chan. This is incorrect. They are grandsons of Kwek family patriarch Kwek Hong Png and the son and nephew respectively of Mr Kwek Leng Beng. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2015, with the headline 'Samsung's Lee family Asia's richest: Forbes'. Print Edition | Subscribe