Singapore—Despite a slowdown in the global economy, the ultra-wealthiest in Singapore have managed to get even richer.
Based on Forbes report Singapore’s Richest 2019, which was published on Wednesday, August 28, the 50 wealthiest people in the country have, when taken in totality, become 12 percent richer than in 2018. Their total combined wealth is a staggering S$180 billion.
However, Forbes points out that over half of those who appear on this year’s list have actually lost some of their wealth.
But there are three people in particular who are responsible for the large increase to the collective wealth: Haidilao’s Zhang Yong, who is actually number one on the list, paint tycoon Goh Cheng and Liang Hong Leong Group chairman Kwek Leng Beng, who are at numbers 4 and 5, respectively.
Haidilao’s Zhang, while number one in Singapore, is number 224 out of 2,057 billionaires around the world, and was number 19 on the China Rich List for last year.
Originally from Sichuan, Mr Zhang and his wife became naturalized Singaporeans and his net worth is S$18.9 billion. His hot pot chain of restaurants Haidilao went public last year, and now enjoys nearly S$24 billion in sales yearly worldwide, from 466 outlets all over the globe—not just in China but in Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and the United States.
Three interesting facts about Mr Zhang:
—he never even finished high school
—he did not know how to make a Sichuan hotpot when he started his business
—among the three friends who helped finance the first of his eateries, one of them, Shu Ping, eventually became his wife. She is now the non-executive director of Haidilao.
Let’s throw in one fun fact about Haidilao as well—part of the restaurant chain’s good reputation is from its customer service, which includes the offer of free manicures for customers who are waiting to be served.
With Haidilao, Mr Zhang managed to unseat Far East Organisation’s Robert and Phillip Ng, who were number one on every single annual “richest” list from 2010 onward. However, while they’re still ranked at number two, it is with a net worth of a whopping S$16.8 billion.
Also responsible for adding to Singapore’s collective wealth is Kwek Leng Beng, whose net worth is $12.2 billion. According to the Forbes report, Mr Kwek added the most to his personal wealth since 2018, because of how his property group, City Developments, has expanded in other countries.
Mr Kwek is now almost S$1.7 billion wealthier than he was last year.
Rounding off the list of those who have added to the collective wealth of Singapore’s richest is Goh Cheng Liang, who has a nearly 40 percent stake in Nippon Paint Holdings of Japan. His net worth, now at approximately S$13.2 billion, actually grew by more than S$1 billion in the last year.
Nippon Paint Holdings is the fourth biggest manufacturer of paint around the globe, and three months ago, agreed to buy the biggest paint company in Australia, Dulux Group, for almost S$3.75 billion./ TISG
Read related: Should Singapore’s rich pay higher taxes? Forum letter writer poses the question
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