Malaysia’s 40 wealthiest tycoons are now worth US$62.1 billion (RM188.28 billion), up by US$11.1 billion or 22% compared with last year, according to the latest rich list published by Forbes Asia.
The better coffers come on the back of the country’s healthy economy which grew 7.2% last year, the highest rate since 2000.
The first two spots on the list see no change for tycoons Tan Sri Robert Kuok Hock Nien and Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan.
Kuok, 87, has held the pole position since 2006 when Forbes Asia began ranking the 40 richest Malaysians. He is worth US$12.5 billion, up by half a billion from last year. His biggest source of wealth is his stake in Wilmar, the world’s largest listed palm oil company.
Krishnan, 72, comes in at No 2 with US$9.5 billion, up from US$8.1 billion last year. His Maxis Communications Bhd is Malaysia’s biggest cellphone service provider.
Recently, he took three of his companies private: satellite broadcaster Astro All Asia Networks, power and gambling company Tanjong Plc, and satellite operator Measat Global Bhd.
At No 3 is this year’s biggest gainer in dollar terms, Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua. The 81-year-old widow of casino magnate Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, is one of three women on the list this year.
Lee's Genting shares took off when the company’s Singapore operations on Sentosa Island opened, pumping up the family’s net worth by US$2.7 billion to US$6.6 billion from a year ago.
Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, who built IOI Group into one of the world’s biggest palm oil producers, is down one spot at No 4 with a net worth of US$5 billion, up by US$400 million from last year.
AirAsia Bhd’s Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, Malaysia’s budget airline pioneer, is ranked 20th this year, down one spot from last year despite his wealth increasing to US$470 million from US$330 million last year.
The only newcomer this year is Chia Song Kun at No 24 with US$400 million. The share price of his QL Resources Bhd, the seafood, egg production and palm oil company, has doubled since last year.
Tan Sri Vincent Tan, the self-made entrepreneur who runs Berjaya Group, is ranked ninth with his wealth at US$1.25 billion.
Timber tycoon Tan Sri Tiong Hiew King is the only person who did not see his wealth change. He is still worth US$1.2 billion and is ranked No 10 on the list.
This year, a minimum net worth of US$125 million was needed to qualify for the list, up from US$110 million last year. The number of billionaires on the list remains unchanged from last year at 10.
The top 10 richest in Malaysia are:
1. Robert Kuok, US$12.5 billion
2. Ananda Krishnan, US$9.5 billion
3. Lee Kim Hua, US$6.6 billion
4. Lee Shin Cheng, US$5 billion
5. Quek Leng Chan, US$4.8 billion
6. Teh Hong Piow, US$4.7 billion
7. Yeoh Tiong Lay, US$2.7 billion
8. Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary, US$2.5 billion
9. Vincent Tan, US$1.25 billion
10. Tiong Hew King, US$1.2 billion
Source: March 2011 issue of Forbes Asia
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