Ananda & Kuok Richest Men in Malaysia

So, who are the richest men in Malaysia now?

According to the latest Forbes ranking, Ananda Krishnan (Maxis, Astro) and Robert Kuok (Kuok Group, Shangri-La) are jointly the richest men in Malaysia at the moment.

Both Krishnan and Kuok are ranked at no 62 with an estimated net worth of US$7 billion each. In last year’s Malaysia list, Kuok sat at number one with Krishnan trailing a little bit behind.

Both had suffered losses in fortune in the past one year, but it was Kuok who felt the worse, losing almost US$3 billion while his rival Krishnan lost US$200 million.

The latest billionaire list saw Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, regained his spot as the world’s richest man. Last year, Gates was ranked 3rd behind investor Warren Buffet and Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu. Gates retired last year to focus his time on philanthropic work.

There are 6 Malaysians who made it to the 2009 billionaire’s list. Apart from Krishnan and Kuok, the other four are Lee Shin Cheng (IOI Group), Teh Hong Piow (Public Bank), Quek Leng Chan (Hong Leong) and Yeoh Tiong Lay (YTL Group).

A number of Malaysians who last year made it to the Forbes billionaire list fell off the chart this year. They include Lee Kim Hua & family (Genting), Vincent Tan (Berjaya Group), Mokhtar al-Bukhary (al-Bukhary Foundation) and Tiong Hiew King (Rimbunan Hijau).

Thailand’s Richest Man Not as Rich as Malaysia’s

Thailand’s richest man for 2008, Chaleo Yoovidhya, is worth less than half than Malaysia’s richest, Robert Kuok.

Forbes recorded Yoovidhya to have a net worth of US$4 billion, while the latter is worth US$10 billion.

Yoovidhya is the founder of energy drink, Red Bull, and is also responsible to take the brand into new height of successes none of his countrymen can imagine. With the help of his Austrian partner, Red Bull underwent a remarkable brand transformation into a worldwide phenomenon.

More than a billion Red Bull cans were sold in over 100 countries worldwide every year, while aggressive marketing campaigns saw the brand become major sponsors for sporting events including motor sport, football, hockey and extreme games.

If the top 10 richest men from the two countries – Malaysia and Thailand are combined, the new top 10 resulting table will see Malaysia billionaires dominating, through 7 representatives, and with 3 of them at the top, as follows:

Rank Name Country Net Worth (US$b)
1 Robert Kuok Malaysia 10.0
2 Ananda Krishnan Malaysia 7.2
3 Lee Shin Cheng Malaysia 5.5
4 Chaleo Yoovidhya Thailand 4.0
5 Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi Thailand 3.9
6 Teh Hong Piow Malaysia 3.5
7 Lee Kim Hua Malaysia 3.4
8 Chirathivat family Thailand 2.8
9 Quek Leng Chan Malaysia 2.4
10 Yeoh Tiong Lay Malaysia 2.1

Yoovidhya ranks fourth richest after Robert Kuok, Andanda Krishnan of Maxis/Astro and Lee Shin Cheng of IOI Corporation.

Tan Sri Nasimuddin Amin (1955-2008)

Tan Sri Nasimuddin Amin was the founder of NAZA Group of Companies, one of the biggest automobile companies in Malaysia. He was an exemplary Malaysia entrepreneur, building an empire entirely from scratch. The group was established in 1974, while he was till a teenager.

His habit of saving money, as well as his diligence in helping out his father with the later’s construction work allowed him to accumulate a fat sum of money when he was merely 20 years old. It was reported that he had close to RM100,000 of cash during the formative years of NAZA.

The NAZA group is famous for its automobile trading but it is not the first and nor the only business it is involved in. Apart from automobile, the company is also into manufacturing, transportation services, engineering, plantation, supply & distribution, properties and hospitality.

Tan Sri Nasimuddin Amin died today at 2am in Los Angeles, California alongside his wife and children. He was suffering from cancer and had been treated in a private hospital in California since January 2008. The NAZA company he started off with only 5 employees, now has turned into a giant corporation, employing 4000 staff nationwide. In the entrepreneurship world and cycle, his name will be remembered alongside other successful men who built multi-billion empire including Tan Sri Mokhtar Bukhary, Lim Goh Tong, Robert Kuok, Ananda Krishnan and so on.

Al-fatihah, and condolences to the family.

Robert Kuok, the Real Sugar Daddy

If there really is a real sugar daddy, it’s Robert Kuok. Not because he is a Casanova or some sort, but simply because the sugar business made him a celebrity businessman.

Apart from being a king of sugar, Kuok also involves in a number of other businesses including freight & transportation, hospitality, manufacturing, distribution, oil and mining, finance, properties and publishing.

Forbes estimated Kuok to worth around $9 billion in 2008, which makes him the richest man in Malaysia as well as in South East Asia.

Just like Boon Siew and Lim Goh Tong who migrated from China main land to the then Malaya, Robert Kuok’s family too, were migrant. The difference is, it was his father who migrated from China. Kuok, the youngest of 3 brothers, was born in 1923 in Johor Bahru.

And unlike the late Boon Siew and Goh Tong, Kuok is one educated wealthy man. He received his early education in an English school and later enrolled into the Raffles College in Singapore, with Lee Kuan Yee as one of his school mates. He had a short stint working with Japanese company Mitsubishi after his studies in Raffles was halted due to Japanese invasion, before helping his father with trading business.

Robert Kuok (Kwok)After his father’s death, Kuok and his two brothers made a decision to continue the business legacy, starting with sugar distribution and a few other commodities. Their business skills were picked up from their father, who was an avid trader.

Kuok’s massive involvement in sugar industry allowed his company to become the government’s supplier and Kuok opened up sugar refinery plants to grow it further. At the peak of his business, he was controlling as much as 80% of the sugar market in Malaysia, and about 10% of the global export market.

Driven by the success of his sugar business, Kuok swiftly expanded his business into flour milling, shipping, logistics, oil and gas and hotels. His rise to success, fame and prominence is attributed to both his expertise in spotting opportunities and his strong network with the big, corporate and government people. Kuok controls the Shangri-La hotel chains and is the largest shareholder of Transmile Group Berhad, which was involved in accounting irregularity scandal in 2007, plunging down the share price.

He is said to be checking his hotels every now and then to make sure that the staff are giving the service of highest quality. At times he invited taxi drivers for free lunch at the hotel’s cafe. Kuok is considered a true gentleman when dealing with people, including his employees. There is a story of Kuok asking permission from a cabin crew to smoke a cigarette in a plane he owns. When the crew told him that he wouldn’t need to ask anyone’s permission, he responded by saying that he is just asking in a capacity of a normal passenger.

Kuok also owns a string of Coca Cola bottling plants in China, as well as modern warehouse and cargo distribution centers in Hong Kong. His other regional businesses and interest include in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and Fiji. Robert Kuok is one of five advisers of the Iskandar Region Development Authority (IRDA), which is directly responsible to attract investment for the Iskandar Malaysia infrastructure project.

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