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Forbes Malaysia Rich List 2020: Robert Kuok retains top spot, wealth shrinks

The country's slowing economy, now getting hit by Covid-19, has taken a toll on Malaysian tycoons, according to Forbes Asia in releasing it’s 2020 Forbes Malaysia Rich List today.

Forbes Asia said the wealth of the country’s 50 richest people fell for a second straight year due to a weaker ringgit and a nearly 10 percent decline in the country’s benchmark stock index.

Their collective net worth of US$79 billion (RM329 billion) is down 7 percent from a year ago, it said.

Nonagenarian business legend Robert Kuok (above) takes the top spot again with a net worth of US$11.5 billion, a position he has held for over two decades.

Kuok is among four listees whose wealth shrank by more than US$1 billion in the past year.

Retaining his spot as second on the list is Quek Leng Chan of Hong Leong group, who added US$300 million to his fortune of US$9.7 billion.

Ananda Krishnan of Maxis takes the third spot with a net worth of US$5.9 billion, down US$300 million from the year before.

The hardest-hit in dollar terms was banking tycoon Teh Hong Piow (number five, US$4.85 billion).

The founder of Public Bank saw his fortune buffeted by headwinds in Malaysia’s banking industry, slipping two spots from third place last year.

Teh saw US$1.85 billion shaved off his wealth since the last list as shares in Public Bank, the country’s second-largest bank by market value, declined roughly 30 percent.

In addition to Kuok and Teh, Lim Kok Thay (seventh place, US$3.2 billion) and Hap Seng’s Lau Cho Kun (10, US$2.3 billion) also saw their wealth slid by more than US$1 billion as their fortunes fell by US$1.2 billion and US$1.1 billion respectively.

AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes (photo) (41) and Kamarudin Meranun (43) saw more than a third of their fortunes dropped to US$335 million and US$315 million respectively.

In all, 22 listees suffered a slide in their net worth from a year ago, but an equal number were modestly better off.

Among the latter group was casino mogul Chen Lip Keong, who moved into the top five for the first time at number four.

Booming growth at Chen’s NagaWorld casino complex in Cambodia, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, helped push his net worth up 6 percent to US$5.3 billion.

Another notable gainer was Kuan Kam Hon (ninth place), who controls Hartalega Holdings, the world’s largest maker of nitrile gloves.

His net worth grew US$400 million to US$2.8 billion, from US$2.4 billion a year ago.

There are five newcomers on the list, the richest of whom are a pair of inheritors.

Debuting at number six are brothers Lee Yeow Chor and Lee Yeow Seng, who share a combined US$4.8 billion legacy left by their father Lee Shin Cheng, the architect of the IOI palm oil and property empire, who passed away last June.

Other new listees include two tech entrepreneurs: Chu Jenn Weng (47, US$280 million), founder of electronics maker ViTrox; and former Hewlett-Packard engineer Oh Kuang Eng (50, US$255 million), whose Mi Technovation makes semiconductor equipment.

- Bernama 

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