SINGAPORE: Robert Kuok occupies the top spot on the 2016 Forbes Malaysia Rich List for the 11th straight year with a net worth of US$10 billion.
The 92-year old founder of the Kuok Group is still Malaysia’s richest, despite the pummeling of many Malaysian fortunes over the past year.
The second richest Malaysian is telecoms mogul Ananda Krishnan, whose wealth dropped US$2.3 billion to US$7.4 billion.
Shares of Maxis, his flagship telecom outfit, fell on the government’s proposal to redistribute and auction telecom spectrum, sparking concerns of an expensive bidding war.
His pay TV operator, Astro Malaysia, also saw its stock take a hit after Netflix entered the country in January.
Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan retains his No 3 position, despite his net worth declining US$300 million from a year ago to US$5.3 billion.
His privately held Hong Leong Co. (Malaysia) has interests in the finance, property and food sectors.
With the stock market falling 8.7 per cent and the ringgit losing 12.6 per cent of its value against the dollar, it was a difficult year for Malaysian tycoons.
The slowdown in China and the continuing political showdown in the capital also hurt business.
The worldwide oil and gas depression also took a toll on fortunes related to that industry.
One of the hardest hit on this year’s list was tech tycoon Goh Peng Ooi.
A year ago, his net worth was at US$1.55 billion. But, in August, his stock fell after an anonymous short-seller said his financial software company, Silverlake Axis, had inflated its results.
Although these allegations were refuted, the damage was done.
This year, Goh dropped out of the billionaire ranks and his wealth fell by 53 per cent to US$725 million.
Only six of last year’s 50 fortunes rose in 2016.
The carnage can be seen among the billionaires.
Last year there were 16 billion-dollar fortunes.This year, there are only 12.
Long-time billionaire Tan Sri Vincent Tan in 17th spot with US$900 million, joined Goh in losing his billionaire status, as did Tan’s brother, Tan Sri Danny Tan Chee Sing at no 13 with US$975 million.
Ninth on the list, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary’s net worth is half of what it was a year ago at US$1.45 billion, down from US$2.9 billion.
Six people fell off this year’s list, most notably Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, who had made the cut year after year thanks to his large stake in Laura Ashley Holdings.
The news was not all bad.
Glovemakers did well, whereby, Kuan Kam Hon at no 11 with US$1.1 billion, became a new billionaire, up US$120 million from last year.
There are five new names on the 2016 list and they include Wong Teek Son, another glovemaker, who joins the list at no 40 with US$255 million.
Another first-timer, no 48 Goh Siang with US$205 million, is in a related field of condom manufacturing.
Smart online startups and investments put Patrick Grove on the roster at no 39 with a net worth of US$260 million.
Palm oil magnate Freddy Datuk Lim Nyuk Sang at no 50 with US$195 million, returns after missing one year, though he’s worth US$35 million less than in 2014.
At no 33 with a net worth of US$340 million is 93-year old Puan Sri Chong Chook Yew of Selangor Properties. She is also the only woman on this year’s list.
The minimum net worth to make the list this year was US$195 million, down from US$240 million.
The list was compiled using information obtained from the individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, private data bases, government agencies and other sources.
Net worths were based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on Feb 12.
Private companies were valued by using financial ratios and other comparisons with similar publicly traded companies.
The complete list can be found at www.forbes.com/malaysia as well as the latest issue of Forbes Asia, available on newsstands now.
The top 10 richest in Malaysia: 1) Robert Kuok (US$10 billion) 2) Ananda Krishnan (US$7.4 billion) 3) Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan (US$5.3 billion) 4) Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow (US$4.65 billion) 5) Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng (US$4.6 billion) 6) Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay (US$4.55 billion) 7) Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay (US$2.25 billion) 8) Tan Sri Lau Cho Kun (US$1.55 billion) 9) Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary (US$1.45 billion) 10) Tan Sri Surin Upatkoon (US$1.15 billion)