Fortunes of Singapore's richest up just 2.4% amid sluggish economy, Brexit: Forbes

Brothers Robert and Philip Ng, who control Far East Organisation and Hong Kong's Sino Group, retained their top spot on Singapore's richest despite a slight decline in wealth.
Brothers Robert and Philip Ng, who control Far East Organisation and Hong Kong's Sino Group, retained their top spot on Singapore's richest despite a slight decline in wealth. PHOTOS: FORBES / ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The sluggish economy and turmoil from Brexit have impacted the wealth of Singapore's richest people this year, according to Forbes.

The magazine said the overall wealth of Singapore's 50 richest people - estimated at US$94.6 billion (S$127 billion) - went up just 2.4 per cent from the previous year, reflecting the tepid growth projected for Singapore's export-led economy in 2016, said the magazine which released its annual rich list last week.

"While the Singapore dollar has remained flat, the stock market fell 10 per cent since the 2015 ranking, buffeting several fortunes. More than half of the returnees to this year's list saw a decline in their fortunes," it added.

While brothers Robert and Philip Ng, who control Far East Organisation and Hong Kong's Sino Group, retained their spot at the top of the list for the seventh year running, they suffered a slight decline in wealth.

Their combined net worth has been estimated at US$8.6 billion, down from US$8.7 billion.

Paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang (US$5.7 billion) was most affected, slipping from third to fifth spot as his net worth shrank by US$1.2 billion.

Mr Wee Cho Yaw (US$4.9 billion), Chairman Emeritus of United Overseas Bank, also fell two places to No. 7.


Mr Goh Cheng Liang (left), founder of Nippon Paint Singapore, and Mr Wee Cho Yaw, Chairman Emeritus of United Overseas Bank. PHOTOS: LIANHE ZAOBAO, ST FILE

Forbes attributed the decline in the net worth of Mr Goh and Mr Wee to a fall in the share prices of Nippon Paint Holdings and a lending slowdown respectively.

Bucking the downward trend, however, was Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, the biggest gainer on this year's list. He jumped three places to No. 3.

The 34-year-old, who now resides in Singapore after reinventing himself as a venture capitalist, grew his net worth from US$5.4 billion to US$7.2 billion.


Mr Saverin speaks at the launch of property search portal 99.co on Jan 29, 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Saverin still derives much of his wealth from his minority stake in Facebook, Forbes noted. He recently invested in local property portal 99.co and payment-processing start-up Xfers.

Property magnate Kwek Leng Beng of City Developments retained his No. 2 spot as his net worth increased from US$7.2 billion to US$7.6 billion.


Mr Kwek speaks at the signing ceremony between Marriott International and CDL-IOI Properties on June 29, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

CDL has been pushing for overseas expansion amid headwinds in Singapore, Forbes said.

There were three newcomers to Singapore's top 50 list, which was first published in 2006: India-born Arvind Tiku (No. 14, US$1.8 billion), whose private holding outfit AT Holdings has interests in oil and gas, property and renewable energy; Sim Lian Group chairman Kuik Ah Han (No. 39, US$625 million) and Mr Tan Min-Liang (No. 41, US$600 million), CEO and co-founder of gaming peripherals company Razer.


Mr Tan Min-Liang, the co-founder and CEO of Razer. PHOTO: DBS

The minimum amount to make this year's top 50 list was US$455 million, up from US$420 million last year.