Singapore—The coronavirus pandemic has meant unprecedented economic woes for nearly everyone around the globe, with exceptions, it seems, among the world’s wealthiest individuals. In the United States, for example, as of May of this year, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos added US$34.6 billion (SGD 47.4 billion) to his wealth, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg got richer by US$25 billion (SGD 34.2 billion).
In Singapore, Forbes reported on August 19 that the 50 wealthiest individuals in the country have added US$37 billion (SGD 50.1 billion) to their wealth, collectively. While this is not nearly on the same scale as Mr Bezos or Mr Zuckerberg, it’s nothing to sniff at, given Singapore’s 13.2 percent drop in GDP year-on-year. It still means that this ultra-wealthy group grew their fortunes by 28 percent to US$167 billion (SGD 228.8 billion).
The wealthiest couple in Singapore is still Zhang Yong and Shu Ping, of Haidilao International Holding, the hotpot chain. They have added US$5.2 billion (SGD 7.1 billion) to their combined net worth, which is now at US$19 billion (SGD 26 billion).
But they may just get unseated by the man in the number two spot, Li Xiting of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co. His wealth has soared due to a rise in demand for ventilators, which as many as five percent of coronavirus patients may end up needing. His net worth is now at US$17.8 billion (SGD 24.3 billion). In April, his net worth was only at US$12.5 billion (SGD 17.1 billion), showing how quickly his fortune has gone up.
In the third spot is Nippon Paint’s Goh Cheng Liang, who has seen his net worth rise to US$14.8 billion (SGD 20.3 billion) in the past year. And at Mr Goh’s heels is Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, with his US$14 billion (SGD 19.2 billion) net worth. As Facebook stocks have soared, so has Mr Saverin’s wealth.
At number five are brothers Robert and Philip Ng, the real estate tycoons from Far East Organization. Their net worth, combined, has gone up by US$1 billion (SGD 1.37 billion) from last year, and is now at US$13.2 billion (SGD 18.1 billion).
However, Forbes reports that the pandemic has not been kind to all of Singapore’s billionaires. The co-founder of Pacific International Lines, Chang Yun Chung, cannot be counted among the billionaires anymore at all. A downturn in the shipping industry has meant a need for the company to restructure its debts.
Those who have made their fortunes in the tourism industry have also suffered, including Michael Kum of M&L Hospitality and Koh Wee Meng of the Fragrance Group, who have seen a drop in their net worth.
Mr Koh, who is the 41st richest man in Singapore had a net worth of US$1.2 billion (SGD 1.64 billion) in August 2019, which is now down to US$870 million (SGD 1.2 billion), while Mr Kum, ranked 43rd richest in the country, had a net worth of US$930 million (SGD 1.2 billion) last year, now down to US$730 million (SGD 1 billion).
As for one of the country’s biggest oil trading companies, Hin Leong Trading, its owner Lim Oon Kuin, filed for bankruptcy last April. He is no longer on the list of the top 50 wealthiest in Singapore.
A list of Singapore’s 50 richest people can be found here.—/TISG