, Singapore

Chinese mogul Zhang Yong displaces Ng brothers as Singapore's richest

The Haidilao International founder debuted in the list with a net worth of US$13.8b.

Hot-pot billionaire Zhang Yong, founder of Haidilao International, is Singapore’s richest with a net worth of US$13.8b, according to the 2019 Forbes Singapore Rich List. Zhang, who was featured previously among China’s richest, is now a naturalised Singapore citizen and resident.

He replaced real estate siblings Robert and Philip Ng of Far East Organization, who are now at No. 2 with a combined wealth of $12.1b. The Ng brothers, whose family fortune continues to benefit from premium prices for their high-end properties, had previously occupied the top spot on the Singapore Rich List every year this decade.

Despite dismal growth prospects inside and outside the city and a stock market that declined 3.5% since the 2018 rich list, the collective wealth of Singapore’s top 50 richest was up more than 12% to $130b, mostly due to the inclusion of Zhang Yong on the list this year.

Facebook billionaire and Singapore resident Eduardo Saverin saw his fortune fall by $1.2b. He takes the No. 3 spot with a net worth of $10.6b. Saverin retains a minority stake in the social media giant.

Paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang (No. 4) saw a billion-dollar boost to his net worth at $9.5b, thanks partly to new information about his holdings.

The biggest dollar gainer this year is Kwek Leng Beng (No. 5, $8.8b), chairman of Hong Leong Group. The property tycoon added $1.2b to his wealth partly on the back of an overseas expansion of his flagship City Developments, which acquired two London office properties for $690m in 2018.

Other notable listees this year include Forrest Li, this year’s only online gaming billionaire after debuting on the list last year. Li jumped 21 spots to No. 21 as his net worth more than doubled to $1.57b from $738m previously.

More than half of the returnees to the list saw their wealth decline. These include shipping tycoon Chang Yun Chung (No. 22), who suffered a 27% erosion in his wealth to $1.5b amidst a sluggish shipping sector in the trade-dependent country. At age 101, Chang is the world’s oldest billionaire.

The two newcomers to the list, other than Haidilao’s Zhang, are the Wong brothers of Singapore-based footwear brand Charles & Keith (No. 34, $970m) and Gang Ye (No. 37, $900m), who cofounded US-listed Sea and holds just under 9% of the company’s shares.

There are three drop-offs this year, including Ching Chiat Kwong, the former cop-turned-developer, who is also known as the king of shoebox apartments. The debt-fueled expansion of his Oxley Holdings made investors wary, causing its shares to dip, Forbes said.

The minimum amount required to make the list increased marginally to $560m this year from $535m previously.

The top 10 richest in Singapore are:

  1. Zhang Yong; US$13.8b
  2. Robert & Philip Ng; $12.1b
  3. Eduardo Saverin; $10.6b
  4. Goh Cheng Liang; $9.5b
  5. Kwek Leng Beng; $8.8b
  6. Wee Cho Yaw; $6.6b
  7. Khoo family; $6.5b
  8. Kwee brothers; $5.7b
  9. Kuok Khoon Hong; $3b
  10. Choo Chong Ngen; $2.95b

Forbes compiled the list using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and other sources. Net worths are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on 13 August.

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