How 6 S’pore Top Multi-Millionaires Built Fortunes Worth Above US$800M
Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world and among those with the most millionaires.
Of the approximately 5.6 million people living here locally, over 269,000 people were registered as millionaires in 2019.
That number is expected to increase to 363,000 by 2024. At the top of the millionaire list are multimillionaires – people who are worth hundreds of millions in assets.
Here are six of Singapore’s greatest multimillionaires and how they built their fortunes.
Teo Swee Ann
Founder and CEO of Shanghai-based Espressif Systems, this Singaporean has a total net worth of US $ 990 million, which puts him at the top of Singapore’s multimillionaire list.
Swee Ann made her fortune with the invention of the ESP32, a series of low-cost, low-power chip microcontrollers with dual-mode Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Chips are used in everything from speakers, portable devices to home appliances.
Espressif was listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in July 2019, 11 years after its creation. Since then, the stock has tripled, pushing Espressif’s market cap to US $ 2.2 billion.
Due to the pandemic, the company’s net profits fell 45% to 35 million yuan in the first half of 2020.
However, Teo has announced that he is not slowing down, with plans to launch four new chips later this year.
Muhammed Aziz Khan
The Bangladeshi-born multimillionaire built his fortune of US $ 955 million as chairman of the Summit Group, a conglomerate that controls power generation assets to be sold to governments and utilities.
Summit Power is Bangladesh’s largest infrastructure conglomerate and independent power producer, producing over 20% of the country’s electricity.
In 2016, Khan partnered with IFC of the World Bank Group to form Summit Power International Limited.
The conglomerate also entered into an agreement with General Electric and signed a memorandum of understanding with Wartisila of Finland.
Khan is currently the Honorary Consul General of Finland in Bangladesh and chairs the Siraj Khaleda Trust while his daughter, Ayesha Aziz Khan, is the Managing Director and CEO of the group.
Gordon and Céline Tang
Power couple Gordon and Celine Tang moved from China to Singapore in the 1990s and built a real estate empire that left them with a fortune of US $ 940 million.
Most of their wealth comes from large holdings in real estate companies around the world, including China, Singapore, the United States and Australia.
Notably, the couple control a controlling stake in Singapore-listed real estate developer SingHaiyi and a S $ 800 million stake in Singapore-listed Suntec REIT, which owns property in the financial district and is managed by ARA.
The couple have extensive political ties in the United States. Neil Bush, the son and brother of two former presidents, is the chairman of SingHaiyi.
In 2016, one of their private companies was swept away by an allegedly inappropriate donation of US $ 1.3 million to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, which resulted in a record fine of US $ 50,000.
Lim Chap Huat
Lim Chap Huat created the Soilbuild group with two partners in 1976 when he was only 22 years old. Today, Soilbuild Group is a multinational real estate development conglomerate and publicly traded real estate investment company, and Lim sits on a fortune of US $ 890 million.
A true story of rags to riches, Lim comes from humble origins as the eldest of seven children of a cyclist and washerwoman.
He spent the first four years of his life in a log cabin in the grounds of a former colonial bungalow before moving to a one-room rental apartment.
After serving national service, Lim started Solibuild with only $ 5,000 of his savings. From scratching in their first year, Solibuild now manages nearly 4 million square feet of commercial space for rent.
Solibuild owns flagship business park developments at Solaris @ Park BizCentral, Mandai Connection and Woodlands Bizhub among a litany of other properties.
The company has also won numerous accolades, including the RIBA International Award in 2012 and the SIA-NParks first prize at the Skyrise Greenery Awards.
Koh Wee Meng
Called the “Geylang King,” this hotelier and real estate mogul controls the Singapore-listed Fragrance Group, famous for its beginnings as a budget hotel chain located in the heart of Singapore’s red light district. He currently sits on a fortune of 870 million US dollars.
Koh parted ways with the family business to start his own real estate business in the 1990s. Aspial, the jewelry group owned by his family, operates businesses like Lee Hwa Jewelery, Goldheart and Maxi-Cash.
The Fragrance Group was listed in Singapore in 2005 and has a market capitalization of over US $ 1 billion with properties in Asia, Australia and Europe.
Notable developments include City Gate and a range of prime residential areas, such as Kensington Square and Novena Regency.
Peter Fu Chong Cheng
At the helm of Kuo International, this low-key multimillionaire has a fortune of US $ 840 million from assets diversified in oil, real estate and securities trading.
Initially founded by his late father in 1963, Kuo International started out as a wood and wax trading company.
Peter and his sister, Juanita, were involved in a high-profile legal dispute with his billionaire second sister, Christina Ong, and her husband Ong Beng Seng in 2016.
Involving hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, the Fu siblings and the Ong couple disagreed over an alleged breach of a share swap agreement that would allow each party to exit their respective businesses.
The dispute was finally settled out of court in 2017, and the parties announced that they had separated.
These multimillionaires run global empires in real estate, energy and manufacturing.
Remarkably, most of the multimillionaires listed either built their empires from scratch or retired on their own. These are the classic rags to wealth stories.
They are not yet billionaires, but they are on the verge of hitting the mark.
Once they hit the billionaire mark, they will have more than enough to retire and live the rest of their lives in luxury.
Featured Image Credit: Next Insight / Hotel Prop / The Daily Star / Forbes
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