20 richest families in Asia and their businesses

Mr Kwek Leng Beng (left) of conglomerate Hong Leong Group and Mr Philip Ng of property developer Far East Organization.
Mr Kwek Leng Beng (left) of conglomerate Hong Leong Group and Mr Philip Ng of property developer Far East Organization.

1. AMBANI (US$50.4 BILLION)

Company: Reliance Industries

Location: India

Mr Dhirubhai Ambani started building the precursor to Reliance Industries in 1957. The conglomerate owns the world's largest oil refining complex.

2. KWOK (US$38 BILLION)

Company: Sun Hung Kai Properties

Location: Hong Kong

The company, listed by Mr Kwok Tak Seng in 1972, is one of Hong Kong's largest property developers.

3. CHEARAVANONT (US$37.9 BILLION)

Company: Charoen Pokphand Group

Location: Thailand

Mr Chia Ek Chor left China and started selling vegetable seeds in Thailand with his brother in 1921. His son Dhanin Chearavanont is senior chairman of the company with food, retail and telecom units.

4. HARTONO (US$32.5 BILLION)

Company: Djarum, Bank Central Asia

Location: Indonesia

Mr Oei Wie Gwan purchased a cigarette brand in 1950 and renamed it Djarum, now one of the largest cigarette-makers in Indonesia. His sons diversified by investing in Bank Central Asia. That stake now makes up most of the family's fortune.

5. LEE (US$28.5 BILLION)

Company: Samsung

Location: South Korea

Mr Lee Byung-chul started Samsung as a trading company exporting fruit, vegetables and fish in 1938. He set up Samsung Electronics in 1969, which has become the world's largest maker of memory chips and smartphones.

6. YOOVIDHYA (US$24.5 BILLION)

Company: TCP Group

Location: Thailand

Mr Chaleo Yoovidhya established T.C. Pharmaceutical in 1956 to sell medication. He later invented an energy drink he called Krating Daeng, Thai for "red bull", which was marketed globally after an Austrian marketer discovered the drink on a business trip.

 

7. MISTRY (US$21.1 BILLION)

Company: Shapoorji Pallonji Group

Location: India

Founded in 1865, Shapoorji Pallonji Group now operates in various business areas, including engineering and construction. The family also has shares in Tata Sons, the holding firm behind Tata Group.

8. SY (US$20.9 BILLION)

Company: SM Investments

Location: The Philippines

Mr Henry Sy immigrated to the Philippines from China when he was 12 and opened a shoe store in 1958. It has grown into a conglomerate with interests in retail, banking and property.

9. CHIRATHIVAT (US$20.3 BILLION)

Company: Central Group

Location: Thailand

The Thai clan of Chinese descent was originally headed by Mr Tiang Chirathivat. From its beginnings as a small family shop in Bangkok in 1947, Central Group is now one of Thailand's largest private commercial conglomerates, with more than 50 subsidiaries.

10. KADOORIE (US$18.5 BILLION)

Company: CLP Holdings

Location: Hong Kong

Brothers Elly and Ellis Kadoorie arrived in Hong Kong in the 1880s and later set up a brokerage and amassed stakes in banking, real estate and power generation facilities.

11. KWEK/QUEK (US$18.4 BILLION)

Company: Hong Leong Group

Location: Singapore/Malaysia

Mr Kwek Hong Png founded Hong Leong Company in Singapore in 1941, along with his three brothers. His eldest son Kwek Leng Beng runs operations in Singapore that range from property development to hospitality to finance. Nephew Quek Leng Chan was sent to lead the family business in Malaysia, which has become one of the largest conglomerates in the country.

12. CHENG (US$18.2 BILLION)

Company: Chow Tai Fook

Location: Hong Kong

The Cheng family controls Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, and New World Development, a real estate and infrastructure company.

13. NG (US$17.2 BILLION)

Company: Far East Organization

Location: Singapore

Mr Ng Teng Fong moved to Singapore from China in 1934. Instead of carrying on the family soya sauce business, he ventured into property development and set up Far East Organization in 1960. He also founded Far East's sister outfit Sino Group in Hong Kong. Now, his elder son Robert is in charge of Hong Kong operations, while younger son Philip oversees the business in Singapore.

14. PAO (US$16.7 BILLION)

Company: BW Group, Wheelock

Location: Hong Kong

Mr Pao Yue-Kong started his shipping business more than 60 years ago. Adapting to market conditions, he diversified into real estate, using proceeds from ship sales.

15. TSAI (US$16.2 BILLION)

Company: Cathay Financial, Fubon Financial

Location: Taiwan

The Tsai brothers founded Cathay Life Insurance in 1962. The family now controls two large financial holding companies in Taiwan and has also diversified into sectors such as real estate and telecommunications.

16. HINDUJA (US$16 BILLION)

Company: Hinduja Group

Location: India

Mr Parmanand Hinduja travelled to Mumbai to establish his business in trade and banking in 1914. The Hinduja Group currently has businesses in industries such as energy, finance and healthcare.

17. HO (US$14.9 BILLION)

Company: SJM

Location: Hong Kong

Mr Stanley Ho and his business partners won the first licence to set up a casino in Macau and built the city's first casino in 1962. The Ho family controls SJM Holdings, which owns casinos and hotels including Grand Lisboa.

18. TORII/SAJI (US$14.8 BILLION)

Company: Suntory

Location: Japan

Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii opened his first store in 1899, selling wine and Western-style liquors. Under his son Keizo Saji's leadership, Suntory has become a conglomerate with interests ranging from alcoholic beverages to health foods, and is now chaired by the founder's grandson, Mr Nobutada Saji.

19. LEE (US$14.7 BILLION)

Company: Lee Kum Kee

Location: Hong Kong

Mr Lee Kum Sheung invented oyster sauce and founded Lee Kum Kee in 1888. The family ventured into the health supplement business in 1992, and owns substantial real estate assets, including the "Walkie Talkie" tower in London.

20. CHUNG (US$13.5 BILLION)

Company: Hyundai

Location: South Korea

Mr Chung Ju-yung, a peasant farmer's son, founded Hyundai in 1946 as an engineering and construction company. It has grown into a conglomerate that makes everything ranging from cars to ships.

SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2019, with the headline '20 richest families in Asia and their businesses'. Print Edition | Subscribe