Robert Kuok still richest man in Malaysia despite drop in wealth

KUALA LUMPUR • Tycoon Robert Kuok retains his No. 1 spot on the 2019 Forbes Malaysia Rich List with a net worth of US$12.8 billion (S$17.3 billion) despite a fall in his wealth by US$2 billion.

Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan of Hong Leong (Malaysia) added US$2.2 billion to his wealth and remains at No. 2 with a net worth of US$9.4 billion.

Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow of Public Bank gained US$700 million, rising one spot to No. 3 this year with a net worth of US$6.7 billion, according to a Forbes press statement on Thursday.

From airlines to manufacturing and property to delivery services, Forbes said, business has not been good for many of Malaysia's top tycoons as the country's economic growth rate slowed.

Overall, 30 tycoons on the 2019 Forbes Malaysia Rich List saw their wealth shrink.

Only 11 enjoyed gains and they include Tan Sri Kong Hon Kong - the founder of Kuala Lumpur-based Nirvana Asia in 1990 - who is at 16th spot.

Forbes pointed out that the country's stocks were down as the FBM KLCI lost 8 per cent in the past 12 months and the ringgit slipped 3 per cent against the US dollar amid a tumultuous year in politics.

Rounding out the top five on the list is Mr Ananda Krishnan at No. 4 with US$6.2 billion, whose net worth is down by US$900 million as shares in his energy service provider Bumi Armada fell by 78 per cent in the year to March 1.

Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng of IOI Corporation and IOI Properties takes the fifth spot on the list, as his wealth fell by US$200 million to US$5.4 billion.

Mr Wong Thean Soon, who takes the No. 48 spot, suffered the biggest loss on the list in percentage terms as his net worth plunged 63 per cent to US$280 million. Shares of his company My E.G. Services, which provides online access to government services, were hit after last year's Malaysian election on the perception that it was closely linked to the outgoing government.

Other tycoons who saw their wealth fall include Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary who maintains his ranking at No. 12 despite a US$200 million decline in wealth to US$1.7 billion. Shares of his infrastructure-linked firms fell amid an ongoing review of Malaysia's mega-infrastructure projects.

Genting chairman Lim Kok Thay slipped one spot from No. 6 last year as his fortune fell by US$300 million to US$4.4 billion.

Meanwhile, newcomer Abdul Kadier Sahib enters the list for the first time at No. 49 with a net worth of US$275 million. He is a director at Serba Dinamik Holdings, an oil-and-gas services supplier that went public in 2017.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2019, with the headline 'Robert Kuok still richest man in Malaysia despite drop in wealth'. Print Edition | Subscribe