Ventilator firm founder Li Xiting tops Forbes list of Singapore's richest

(Clockwise from top left) Mr Li Xiting, Mr Eduardo Saverin, Mr Goh Cheng Liang, Mr Forrest Li, Mr Ye Gang and Mr Anthony Tan.
(Clockwise from top left) Mr Li Xiting, Mr Eduardo Saverin, Mr Goh Cheng Liang, Mr Forrest Li, Mr Ye Gang and Mr Anthony Tan.PHOTOS: MINDRAY/FACEBOOK, ST FILE, LIANHE ZAOBAO, BUSINESS TIMES, SEA LIMITED, GRAB

SINGAPORE - The founder of ventilator maker Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co, Mr Li Xiting, took the top spot on Forbes' Singapore Rich List for the first time this year, with his net worth soaring amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Anthony Tan, co-founder of super app Grab, was among three new additions to the list, which compiles the 50 richest people in the Republic.

Alongside him were Dr Shi Xu, founder of nanotechnology solutions company Nanofilm, and Mr Zhao Changpeng, founder and chief executive of cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

The combined net worth of Singapore's 50 most affluent rose 25 per cent to US$208 billion (S$282 billion) this year, with 42 entrants worth US$1 billion or more.

Mr Li, whose company's shares have risen about 19 per cent since last year due to a surge in demand for its medical devices during the coronavirus outbreak, occupied the second spot on last year's list. The naturalised Singaporean added some US$5.2 billion to his net worth over the past year.

Grab’s Mr Tan, the scion of Malaysia car distributor Tan Chong Motor’s president, aims to list in the United States through a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) deal which would value the company at around US$40 billion.

He has previously featured among Malaysia’s richest. 

Meanwhile, Dr Shi saw his net worth surge after Nanofilm listed last year. The company entered an agreement with state investor Temasek in July to invest in a joint venture to explore solutions around the use of hydrogen as an energy source. 

Second on this year's list was Facebook co-founder and venture capitalist Eduardo Saverin, while paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang came in third.

Mr Goh’s Wuthelam Holdings took a majority stake in Japan’s biggest paint maker Nippon Paint Holdings in a US$12 billion deal which was completed in January. This contributed to his net worth growing by US$3.8 billion to US$18.6 billion.

One-fifth of those listed in the August issue of Forbes Asia are tech tycoons, indicating that  Singapore’s efforts to foster a culture conducive to start-ups are paying off.

They include the three co-founders of e-commerce platform Shopee's parent company Sea - Mr Forrest Li, Mr Ye Gang and Mr David Chen - who made the top half of the list.

They were the biggest gainers on the list in percentage terms, with a collective wealth of US$29.3 billion, more than doubling their US$12.6 billion net worth a year ago.

Sea, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was awarded one of Singapore’s two digital full bank licences last year and was added to the MSCI Singapore Index in May. 

Hotpot chain Haidilao's Mr Zhang Yong and Ms Shu Ping, who were ranked first in last year's list, slipped to fourth this year as their net worth dipped to US$16 billion from US$19 billion a year ago.

Haidilao International Holding's shares have slipped in recent months, reflecting the challenges faced by the global restaurant industry during the pandemic.

In July, its shares plunged 32 per cent over five days, making it  this year’s worst performer on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index.

The couple were among seven entrants on the Forbes list whose wealth declined in the past year.

The minimum net worth to make this year's list was US$735 million, up from US$610 million last year.

The list includes family fortunes - and those shared among extended families. Foreign citizens who reside in Singapore, as well as those who are not residents but have significant business or other ties to the Republic, can also be included in the list.

The entrants' net worth is based on stock prices and exchange rates as at market close on July 26, 2021.