25 May, 2007

Malaysia's Wealthiest Worth $43B

Malaysia's 40 Wealthiest Are Worth US$43 Billion, 65 Percent Up on 2006, Forbes Says

Malaysia's 40 richest business people are worth $43 billion -- a 65 percent jump from 2006 -- with former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's son joining the list, Forbes Asia magazine said Thursday.

Their collective wealth in 2006 was $26 billion, Forbes said in a statement.

Sugar baron Robert Kuok, 84, remains the country's richest man with a net worth of $7.6 billion, up from $5.6 billion last year. The Kuok Group has interests spanning shipping, real estate, palm oil and the media.

The second richest, with a net worth of $7.4 billion, is telecom and TV tycoon Ananda Krishnan, who owns the country's second-biggest mobile phone company Maxis and the dominant cable television company Astro.

Krishnan was worth $4.6 billion last year, and recently announced plans to take publicly listed Maxis private in a $5 billion buyout.

Krishnan is followed by Genting casino doyen, Lim Goh Tong, at $4.3 billion, up from $1.5 billion in 2006.

Forbes said the thriving economy has boosted the wealth of Malaysia's richest, along with recent government moves to reduce taxes, and a buoyant stock market, which has risen more than 20 percent this year -- Asia's third best-performing market behind China and Vietnam.

Eight newcomers have joined the rich list -- most due to recent offerings or dramatic gains in public holdings -- with Mahathir's son Mokhzani Mahathir, 46, ranked 28 with net worth of $220 million after publicly listing his energy company Kencana last December.

The petroleum engineer is also the sole distributor of Porsche in Malaysia, and personally owns four of them, Forbes said. An amateur race car driver, he chairs the country's Formula One race track.

The richest of the eight newcomers is Singapore resident Ong Beng Seng, worth $580 million at No. 12. Ong -- Malaysian citizen -- recently persuaded Formula One's Bernie Ecclestone to hold a Grand Prix race in Singapore at night, a world first if it happens.

Seri Eleena Raja Azlan Shah became the list's second woman after Chong Chook Yew, thanks to her shareholding in thriving construction firm Gamuda rising 90 percent in the past year.

A lawyer, Seri Eleena is at No. 25 with assets of $228 million, while Chong, an 85-year-old widow, is at No. 18 with assets of $320 million.

A Columbia University graduate, Chong took over as chairwoman of Selangor Properties after her husband, Wen Tien Kuang, Selangor's founder, died in 2000.

Forbes Asia said the country’s wealth creation was boosted by a thriving economy, which benefited from recent government moves to reduce taxes, and a buoyant stock market.

Worth reading : "Ten People Who Could Change The World" - Forbes . com



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