Haidilao boss debuts at top of Forbes rich list here

Hotpot chain Haidilao founder Zhang Yong, seen here with his wife Shu Ping, has a net worth of US$13.8 billion (S$19.15 billion). PHOTO: REUTERS
Hotpot chain Haidilao founder Zhang Yong, seen here with his wife Shu Ping, has a net worth of US$13.8 billion (S$19.15 billion). PHOTO: REUTERS

Charles & Keith's Wong brothers premiere on list at No. 34, with net worth of $1.35b

Consumers' love for hotpot has propelled Haidilao founder Zhang Yong to the top of this year's Forbes Singapore Rich List on his debut, with a net worth of US$13.8 billion (S$19.15 billion).

The Wong brothers of homegrown footwear label Charles & Keith also made the rich list for the first time, coming in at No. 34, with a net worth of US$970 million (S$1.35 billion).

Mr Zhang bumped off long-time leaders on the list, property tycoons Robert and Philip Ng of Far East Organization, who are now second, with a combined wealth of US$12.1 billion (S$16.8 billion).

The Ng brothers previously took the top spot on the list every year this decade, Forbes Asia said yesterday.

Mr Zhang, who was previously featured among China's richest, is now a naturalised Singapore citizen and resident. His company is also increasingly global in its expansion, Forbes Asia noted.

Meanwhile, the Ng family fortune continues to benefit from premium prices for its high-end properties, which remain undented by the recent political ructions in Hong Kong or by Singapore's slowing economy, Forbes Asia said.

Despite global headwinds and a stock market that declined 3.5 per cent since last year's rich list, the collective wealth of Singapore's top 50 richest grew by more than 12 per cent to US$130 billion, mostly due to the inclusion of Mr Zhang this year.

  • $16.8b

  • The combined wealth of property tycoons Robert and Philip Ng of Far East Organization, who ranked second this year. The brothers previously took the top spot on the list every year this decade.

Facebook billionaire and Singapore resident Eduardo Saverin saw his fortune fall by US$1.2 billion to come in at No. 3, with a net worth of US$10.6 billion. Mr Saverin retains a minority stake in the social media behemoth, which has been battling investor concerns about user privacy issues.

Coming in fourth on the list is paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang, who has a stake in Japan's Nippon Paint Holdings, and saw a billion-dollar boost to his net worth to US$9.5 billion this year.

The biggest dollar gainer this year, however, is Hong Leong Group's chairman Kwek Leng Beng who bagged the fifth spot, with a net worth of US$8.8 billion.

The property tycoon added US$1.2 billion to his wealth partly attributable to an overseas expansion of his flagship City Developments, which acquired two London office properties for US$690 million last year.

Other notable listees this year include Mr Forrest Li, who makes his mark as this year's only online gaming billionaire after debuting on the list last year. Mr Li jumps 21 spots to No. 21, as his net worth more than doubled to US$1.57 billion from US$738 million previously.

The Wong brothers, who are siblings Charles, Keith and Kelvin, have expanded the footprint of their business worldwide over the years since opening their first store at Amara Shopping Centre in Singapore in 1996.

In 2011, the private equity arm of luxury group LVMH picked up a 20 per cent stake in Charles & Keith, which the brothers have since bought back. They now run more than 550 stores in 37 markets, including China, Japan, France and the Middle East.

The other newcomer is Mr Gang Ye (No. 37, US$900 million), the co-founder of US-listed Sea, and holds just under 9 per cent of the company's shares.

That said, more than half of the returnees to this year's list saw their wealth decline.

These include shipping tycoon Chang Yun Chung (No. 22), who suffered a 27 per cent erosion in his wealth to US$1.5 billion, amid a sluggish shipping sector in the trade-dependent country, Forbes Asia noted. At age 101, Mr Chang is the world's oldest billionaire.

There are three drop-offs this year, including policeman-turned-developer Ching Chiat Kwong, who is also known as the king of shoebox apartments. The debt-fuelled expansion of his Oxley Holdings made investors wary, causing its shares to dip, Forbes Asia said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2019, with the headline 'Haidilao boss debuts at top of Forbes rich list here'. Print Edition | Subscribe