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10 crazy rich Singapore tycoons who made their money from real estate

fiona.ho@edgeprop.sg

The very rich in Singapore has gotten even richer, according to the 2018 Forbes Singapore Rich List.

The combined wealth of the top 50 tycoons on the list rose 11% to nearly US$116 billion, up from $104.6 billion last year.

This year’s biggest gainers were property siblings Robert and Philip Ng, who retained their number one spot for the ninth year with US$11.9 billion (S$16.32 billion). The Ngs enjoyed a whooping US$2.5 billion (S$3.43 billion) boost from last year.

In this article, we round up 10 Singapore tycoons who made their fortune from real estate.

Source: Forbes

 

1) Robert & Philip Ng

Net worth: US$11.9 billion (S$16.32 billion)

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

This year, the Ng siblings enjoyed a tremendous $2.5 billion (S$3.43 billion) boost to their net worth, partly on new information about their private assets. Their Far East-led consortium scored a victory in May by clinching a hotly-contested commercial and residential mixed-use site in Holland Village with a winning bid of S$1.213 billion. They beat out a total of 15 other aspirants.

However, the brothers, who retained their No. 1 spot with US$11.9 billion (S$16.32 billion), must now contend with the new property cooling measures.

 

2) Kwek Leng Beng

Net worth: US$7.6 billion (S$10.42 billion)

Kwek Leng Beng is the executive chairman of Singapore’s Hong Leong Group, which was founded by his father in 1941.

The 77-year old Kwek is also the executive chairman of City Developments, Singapore’s second-largest property developer.

Amid the new cooling measures, Kwek has been on an overseas expansion drive, acquiring assets in overseas markets such as the UK, China and Australia.

 

3) Kwee family

Net worth: US$5.4 billion (S$7.41 billion)

The four Kwee siblings control the privately held Pontiac Land, renowned for building high-end condos and luxury hotels under the Ritz-Carlton and Conrad brands.

Pontiac Land was founded by their father Henry Kwee, a textile trader and a real estate developer from Indonesia who migrated to Singapore in 1958.

Last year, the brothers reportedly reached an agreement to buy the Cappella Hotel group from luxury hotelier Horst Schulze for an undisclosed sum. One of their hotels, The Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island was the site of the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore in June 2018.

Outside of the city-state, the Singapore-based Kwees have also developed projects in New York, Sydney and the Maldives.

 

4) Raj Kumar & Kishin RK

Net worth: US$2.7 billion (S$3.7 billion)

Dynamic father-and-son pair, Raj Kumar and Kishin RK, are among the nation’s leading landlords with their Royal Holdings/RB Capital property empire.

Their prize holdings include the 442-room Holiday Inn Express at Clarke Quay and the five-star Hotel Intercontinental at Robertson Quay.

According to Forbes, the duo has been on a deal-making spree following a 2011 family settlement between Raj and his younger sibling Asok Kumar Hiranandani, also a billionaire on this list. That year, Raj and Asok divided their property empire to go their separate ways.

 

5) Choo Chong Ngen

Net worth: US$2.6 billion (S$3.57 billion)

This hotel tycoon first made his fortune in textiles before launching the Hotel 81 budget chain in Singapore.

Since 2017, Choo has expanded into overseas markets such as Thailand, Malaysia and Australia with four hotels managed by Travelodge and Holiday Inn.

Today, his privately-held hotel empire, which his daughter Carolyn has been helping him run since 2002, has over 6,500 rooms across Singapore. His group was also recently rebranded as Worldwide Hotels.

According to Forbes, Choo is currently expanding in the mid-tier market, where he has introduced five new hotel brands since 2009.

 

6) Sheng Jian Zhong

Net worth: US$1.7 billion (S$2.33 billion)

Zhong Sheng Jian is a mainland native who moved to Singapore in 1988. He is the chairman and CEO of Yanlord Land Group one of the largest non-government-owned real estate developers in China.

Yanlord's shares are publicly traded in Singapore. The group’s prominent China partners include Ping An Insurance, China Merchants Property Development and Poly Real Estate Group.

In July 2017, Yanlord and partners announced plans to invest $531 million for stakes in Singapore real estate companies.

 

7) Asok Kumar Hiranandani

Net worth: US$1.6 billion (S$2.19 billion)

Asok Kumar Hiranandani is the co-founder of the erstwhile Royal Brothers property group. He separated from his older brother, Raj Kumar in 2011 after dividing their property empire.

Asok’s Royal Group, now run by his son Bobby, owns the 215-room Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort and the So Sofitel Hotel in Tanjong Pagar. In 2017, the group sold their iconic Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney for $112 million.

 

8) Chua Thian Poh

Net worth: US$1.45 billion (S$1.99 billion)

Chua Thian Poh was a high school dropout who got his start making hooks and spikes for the logging industry.

Chua went on to found luxury property developer Ho Bee Land, best known for building high-end condos in Sentosa.

Ho Bee Land has a diversified portfolio that includes commercial property overseas, notably in London and Munich. In June 2013, Ho Bee Land purchased a London office block, Ropemaker place, for $1.16 billion.

 

9) Koh Wee Meng

Net worth: US$1.29 billion (S$1.77 billion)

Son of a jeweller and school teacher, Koh Wee Meng broke away from Aspial, his family's successful jewellery business to start his own property venture in the 1990s.

Today, the property magnate and hotelier controls Singapore-listed Fragrance Group with interests extending to Australia and the U.K.

Koh, who was known as the “Geylang King” for Fragrance's beginnings in the Geylang area, also has a majority stake in education provider TMC Education.

Earlier this year, Fragrance Group bought the 107-unit, freehold Eunos Mansion at Jalan Eunos, off Bedok Reservoir Road for S$220 million.

 

10) Gordon Tang

Net worth: US$1 billion (S$1.37 billion)

Gordon Tang owns a controlling stake in Singapore-listed property developer SingHaiyi along with his wife Celine Tang, who runs it. Neil Bush, brother of former US president George W. Bush, chairs the company.

Tang, a non-executive director at SingHaiyi, relinquished his role as managing director to spend more time developing townships in Shantou, China.

His other interests include stakes in Singapore listed Suntec Reit, OKH Global and OUE Hospitality.

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