Singapore, which served as the backdrop of last year’s movie blockbuster “Crazy Rich Asians”, is home to some of Asia’s richest people.
This is re-emphasised every year, in Forbes’ annual net worth report on the country’s wealthiest individuals. This year’s survey features the usual names, but it also saw a number of drops and rises, on the back of an unpredictable economy.
The big story this year is that of hotpot restaurant chain Haidilao’s Chinese founder Zhang Yong debut appearance on the list, which landed him straight at number one.
The naturalised Singapore citizen, who featured on the China list in 2018, has accumulated an estimated net worth of US$13.8 billion in a short time, thanks to his company going public last September. In March 2019, he had a net worth of US$6.8 billion, which means he has more than doubled his wealth in only six months.
This is unsurprising, considering that Haidilao is one of the biggest food and beverage chains in Asia, with over US$17 billion in sales from 466 restaurants across China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and even the US.
Last year’s richest men – real estate tycoons Robert and Philip Lim, fell by one spot as a result of Zhang’s appearance, marking the first time since 2010 that they have not been first on the survey.
Economic uncertainty also saw a decline in the fortunes of several of last year’s names, including shipping magnate Chang Yun Chung, technopreneur Eduardo Saverin, financier Richard Chandler, and property moguls Raj Kumar & Kishin RK.
Facebook co-founder Saverin, who still makes the majority of his money from the 2% stake he continues to have in the company, lost a whopping US$1.2 billion according to this year’s tracking. The Singapore resident, however, maintains his overall placement at no.3, with a net worth of US$10.6 billion.
New Zealand-born financier Chandler, the founder of investment fund group Clermont Group, dropped three places down to no.11 this year, after suffering losses of US$0.45 billion for a total net worth of US$2.7 billion.
Father-son property billionaires Raj Kumar & Kishin RK took a small hit of US$0.05 billion at the time of tracking – causing them to drop from ninth place to no.12 on the list, while shipping bigwig and the world’s oldest billionaire (at 101 years old) Chang saw his wealth deteriorate by 27% from US$2.05 billion to US$1.5 billion.
According to reports, these are challenging times for the shipping industry, and will continue to remain so due to higher fuel costs and lower fuel costs, and the ongoing US-China trade war.
It wasn’t just traditional businesses and industries that made bank on this year’s list. The highly private co-founders of internet gaming company SEA Group Forrest Li and Gang Ye came in at 21st and 37th place respectively, while gaming technology Razer CEO Ming-Liang Tan scored the last spot at 50th place.
Overall, the combined wealth of the 50 wealthiest Singapore citizens and residents increased more than 12% to US$130 billion.
Singapore’s Richest 2019 (Top 10)
- Zhang Yong (US$13.8 billion)
- Robert and Philip Ng (US$12.1 billion)
- Eduardo Saverin (US$10.6 billion)
- Goh Cheng Liang (US$9.5 billion)
- Kwek Leng Beng (US$8.8 billion)
- Wee Cho Yaw (US$6.6 billion)
- Khoo family (US$6.5 billion)
- Kwee brothers (US$5.7 billion)
- Kuok Khoon Hong (US$3.0 billion)
- Choo Chong Ngen (US$2.95 billion)
See the full list here.