Forbes' 50 richest in S'pore: Inflation, tech stock sell-off hit tycoons' wealth

The top three on the Forbes' 2022 list of Singapore's 50 richest are (clockwise from left) Mindray founder Li Xiting, brothers Robert and Philip Ng of Far East Organization and Nippon Paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang. PHOTOS: MINDRAY/FACEBOOK, BLOOMBERG, ST FILE, LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE

SINGAPORE - Surging inflation has not left Singapore's billionaires unscathed, with their collective wealth dropping by more than 20 per cent this year, a study has found.

Forbes' 2022 list of Singapore's 50 richest people showed on Thursday that the tycoons' combined wealth amounted to US$164 billion (S$230.4 billion), down from US$208 billion in 2021 when their net worth rose by 25 per cent.

Forbes said that while Singapore continues to be a magnet for the wealthy, rising inflation and the global sell-off in technology stocks this year took a toll on the top 50.

"The pecking order of the top five reflects post-pandemic realities," said Forbes, referring to losses borne by the richest people on the list who benefited from the surge in demand for electronic products, online services and medical devices during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Li Xiting, founder and chairman of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, held the top slot. However, his wealth shrank by nearly a third to US$15.6 billion as shares of his medical device-maker dropped on slower sales growth.

The property sector's continued recovery and new information on their real estate holdings propelled brothers Robert and Philip Ng to second place with US$15.2 billion, up from US$14.2 billion last year.

The Ng brothers control the Far East Organization, Singapore's largest private landlord and property developer. The group was founded by their late father Ng Teng Fong, who moved here from China in 1934 and came to be known as the King of Orchard Road.

The net worth of 95-year-old paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang, who controls Japan's Nippon Paint Holdings, slipped 30 per cent to US$13 billion. He was still at No. 3 as the tech tycoons on the list took a bigger hit.

The sell-off in tech stocks worldwide more than halved the net worth of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin to US$9.6 billion, pulling him down two places to No. 4. Facebook was recently renamed Meta.

Rounding out the top 5 with US$9.3 billion was the executive chairman of City Developments, Mr Kwek Leng Beng. His wealth rose from US$8.5 billion last year.

Last year's red-hot stock, New York-listed gaming firm Sea, plunged in 2022 on increasing losses in its e-commerce arm Shopee.

The Sea stock plunge eroded the wealth of its three co-founders: Mr Forrest Li (No. 11 with US$4.2 billion), Mr Gang Ye (No. 13 with US$2.8 billion) and Mr David Chen (No. 48 with US$745 million).

The drop in their net worth came at over 70 per cent for each, making it the biggest drop in percentage terms on the list.

Grab's co-founder Anthony Tan, who made the list last year, dropped out after his ride-hailing and e-commerce company's stocks nearly halved their value since their debut on the Nasdaq exchange in December 2021.

Grab chief executive Anthony Tan dropped out of the Forbes' list of Singapore's 50 richest. PHOTO: ST FILE

Another high-profile omission was Mr Zhao Changpeng, founder of crypto exchange Binance, who was included among Singapore's richest last year but has since moved to Dubai.

Dr Shi Xu, founder of Nanofilm, which is a provider of nanotechnology solutions, was at the bottom of the list at No. 50 with US$705 million.

Still, the 2022 Forbes' list welcomed two newcomers, both with international roots.

The richest entrant was Indonesia-born Mr Leo Koguan (No. 7 with US$7.6 billion).

He is the co-founder and chairman of technology products and services provider SHI International. Last year, he revealed that he was the third-largest individual shareholder in Tesla and is now an American citizen residing in Singapore.

The second newcomer was France-born Mr Laurent Junique, who came in at No. 47 with US$825 million.

He is the founder of Singapore-based call centre and business process outsourcing firm TDCX, which listed last October on the New York Stock Exchange.

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