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Forbes Malaysia's 50 Richest in 2024: 100-year-old tycoon Robert Kuok still on top

Malaysian brothers Lee Yeow Chor and Yeow Seng from the IOI group rose to the top five on the Forbes list for the first time.

Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, illustrating a story on Forbes' Malaysia's 50 Richest list.
Tycoon Robert Kuok still leads the Forbes Malaysia's 50 Richest list. (PHOTO: REUTERS/China Daily/File Photo) (REUTERS / Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Malaysia business mogul Robert Kuok retains top spot on the Forbes Malaysia's 50 Richest list released on Tuesday (16 April), while brothers Lee Yeow Chor and Yeow Seng from the IOI group rose to the top five for the first time.

A declining ringgit, Forbes said, offset a nine per cent rise in Malaysia's stock market since the fortunes of Malaysia's richest tycoons were last measured.

"As a result, collective wealth of billionaires on the 2024 Forbes list of Malaysia's 50 Richest rose by a modest two per cent to US$83.4 billion this year," said Forbes.

The minimum net worth to qualify for the list in 2024 was US$320 million, up from $315 million in 2023.

Who is Malaysia's Robert Kuok?

Kuok, who turned 100 last October, topped the list with a net worth of US$11.5 billion (RM55.15 billion). One of the world's oldest billionaires, he founded the Kuok Group 75 years ago in Johor Bahru, trading sugar, rice and wheat flour. He then founded the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts chain in 1971 in Singapore.

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The Kuok Group is now a thriving conglomerate that has interest in hotels, real estate and commodities.

At No. 2 with US$8.8 billion is Quek Leng Chan, executive chairman of Hong Leong Co. (Malaysia), who retained his ranking despite a dip in his net worth from US$10.2 billion last year.

The Teh siblings, heirs of late banker Teh Hong Piow, wrapped up the list's top three with a net worth of US$5.4 billion.

Biggest gainers

Malaysia's IOI Group of Companies Group Executive Director Lee Yeow Chor.
Malaysia's IOI Group of Companies Group Executive Director Lee Yeow Chor moves to No. 4 on Forbes Malaysia's 50 Richest list. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad) (REUTERS / Reuters)

Property gains propelled another set of inheritors, brothers Lee Yeow Chor and Yeow Seng (No. 4) into the top five for the first time with US$5.35 billion, up from US$4.6 billion last year.

Older brother Yeow Chor runs the family's palm oil company IOI Corp., while younger sibling Yeow Seng oversees IOI Properties.

Who is the biggest gainer on the Forbes Malaysia's 50 Richest list?

Forbes said the biggest gainers on this year’s list, in both dollar and percentage terms, among the 22 fortunes that were up, are Francis Yeoh and siblings.

"They more than tripled their combined fortune to US$4.7 billion and jumped seven spots on the list to No. 7. Shares of their flagship YTL, which partnered with US tech giant Nvidia to build AI infrastructure at its data centre park in Johor, have been on a tear," Forbes noted.

Four newcomers were added to the Forbes list. Among them are two sets of heirs: the Chen family (No. 18, US$1.1 billion), who inherited the wealth of casino mogul Chen Lip Keong, who died in December, and the Gnanalingam family (No. 12, US$1.6 billion) which consists of heirs of late ports magnate G Gnanalingam, who died in July 2023.

The other new faces are Lim Siow Jin (No. 40, US$525 million), founder and executive chairman of DXN Holdings, a maker of health supplements that relisted on Bursa Malaysia last year; and Ooi Eng Leong (No. 42, US$480 million) a co-founder of NationGate Holdings, a provider of electronic manufacturing services that went public in 2023.

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