The super rich getting richer
Stephanie Jacob 
From left: Top-ranked Teh, big gainers Kuan and Lau, significant losers Yeoh and Gnanalingam

The richest investors on Bursa Malaysia continued to see their wealth rise this year, thanks to a relatively bullish market.   

This month’s Focus List, which tracks the wealth of billionaires of listed companies, shows that their cumulative wealth grew 13.4% to RM149.3 bil from the RM131.7 bil last year.

Their larger wealth was in tandem with the stronger market – the benchmark FBM KLCI rose 4.5% year-on-year (yoy) to 1,743.99 points on Oct 19 from 1,668.27 a year ago.

Bursa billionaires 2017

Quick facts

  • The number of Bursa billionaires grew to 33 from last year’s 31, with overall wealth up 13.4% to RM149.3 bil.
  • Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow tops the list with RM21.5 bil, derived from Public Bank Bhd and LPI Capital Bhd.
  • Selangor Properties Bhd’s Puan Sri Chook Yew Chong Wen, 95, is the oldest and only woman featured.
  • Westports Holdings Bhd’s Ruben Emir Gnanalingam is the youngest at 41.
  • Tan Sri Vincent Tan controls the most number of listed entities, with nine.
  • Westports’ Tan Sri G Gnanalingam and son Ruben are the only father-son team, while Batu Kawan’s Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian and Datuk Lee Hau Hian are brothers.

Three richest retain rankings

Banking icon Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow of Public Bank Bhd held on to top spot as his Bursa-derived net worth rose 3.8% to RM21.5 bil from RM20.7 bil.

Teh founded Public Bank in 1966 and is still its chairman. The banking group has the second largest assets under management and, together with his insurance business, LPI Capital Bhd, contributed the bulk of Teh’s wealth.

Public Bank’s share price rose 3.4% yoy to RM20.48 from RM19.80, while LPI Capital was up 7.31% to RM18.20 from RM16.96. The better performance reflected a more positive overall view of the banking sector.

MIDF Research’s Imran Yusof noted in a recent banking report that the sector continued to see lower return on equity (ROE) numbers, but believes this may be the new normal, not just locally, but globally as well.

He pointed out that the fall in ROE was not reflected in the share prices of listed banking groups, suggesting this could be due to the banks having lowered their risks significantly.

“We believe that the reduction in risk will moderate any negative pressure on share price performance. We maintain our positive stance, especially on the continuation of higher loan demand and approval, whereby the banking sector will be able to maintain its earnings potential,” he said.

MIDF Research has a buy call on Public Bank due to its good asset quality and sustained profitability.

Earlier this year, the banking group announced Teh would step down in 2019 after 51 years at the helm. He will be its chairman emeritus and remain an adviser. He is expected to retain his majority stake of 23.5% in the banking group, which is his most significant Bursa-related wealth generator.

IOI Corp Bhd founder Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng also retained second spot. He is chairman of both the plantation group and IOI Properties Group.

His Bursa-derived wealth rose marginally to RM20 bil from RM19.9 bil. Over the past year, trading on the IOI Corp counter had been choppy, falling to a low of RM4.35 on Nov 11 last year, before recovering to RM4.49 on Oct 19.

Looking ahead, IOI Corp’s performance is likely to remain stable in view of the steady crude palm oil prices. Public Investment Bank (PIVB) analyst Chong Hoe Leong said in a recent report that “given the steady palm oil prices, upstream plantation earnings and downstream earnings margins are likely to improve.”

He noted that most of IOI Corp’s customers had returned after the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) lifted its suspension in August last year. They included Unilever which recently announced it would resume sourcing palm oil from IOI Corp, he said in his Oct 23 report.

PIVB has a neutral call on the counter as it sees the positives have been priced in. However, it increased its target price to RM4.65.

In third spot is T Ananda Krishnan – better known as AK – whose net worth slipped slightly to RM18.2 bil from RM18.5 bil. AK’s wealth came from a diversified range of businesses, including oil & gas (O&G), telecommunications and media.

On Bursa, he has significant holdings in Maxis Bhd, Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd and Bumi Armada Bhd. The share prices of Maxis and Astro were down by 4.49% and 1.7% yoy respectively.

Bumi Armada traded marginally higher at 1.42%. The O&G player remains in recovery mode after it was hit hard by depressed oil prices the past several years.

An AmResearch report said that while Bumi Armada’s earnings could improve from the second half of its financial year 2017 (H2FY17), it remains cautious on the company’s near-term prospects.

“We remain cautious on the company’s near-term earnings trajectory given the uncertainties arising from its Kraken floating production storage and offloading unit’s lower charter payments amidst loss-inducing weak charter rates for offshore support vessels,” it said.

AmResearch maintains its neutral view on the stock in line with lingering risks over H2FY17 earnings recovery.


Gainers and losers

Our list has 17 gainers led by Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd’s controlling shareholder Tan Sri Lau Cho Kun, who also holds significant stakes in Hap Seng Plantations Holdings Bhd and Borneo Oil Bhd.

His Bursa-derived wealth grew 18% yoy to RM11.1 bil from RM9.4 bil, pushing him from fifth to fourth place.

Hap Seng Consolidated’s share price appreciated 18.1% yoy to RM9.13 from RM7.73, while its plantation counter rose 10% to RM2.64 from RM2.40. Borneo Oil is Lau’s only entity to see its share price slip 16.1% to 9.5 sen from 11 sen.

Hartalega Holdings Bhd’s founder and executive chairman Kuan Kam Hon had the second-highest increase in wealth derived from Bursa investments. His net worth rose 68% to RM3.7 bil from RM2.2 bil.

This was in tandem with a 58% appreciation of the glove maker’s share price to RM7.70 from RM4.86.

Westports Holdings Bhd’s founder and chairman Tan Sri G Gnanalingam was the biggest loser. His wealth fell 13.5% to RM3.2 bil from RM3.7 bil, resulting in him slipping three spots to 11th.

The port company’s share price fell 13.3% to RM3.77 from RM4.35, which also affected the fortune of Gnanalingam’s son Ruben Emir. The Westports CEO’s Bursa-related net worth contracted 14.8% to RM2.3 bil from RM2.7 bil yoy, pulling his ranking down six rungs to 16th.

Another billionaire whose wealth also contracted substantially was YTL Corp Bhd’s Tan Sri Francis Yeoh Sock Ping. His Bursa-generated net worth fell 21% to RM1.1 bil from RM1.4 bil yoy.

Yeoh also has investments in YTL Power International Bhd, YTL Hospitality REIT and YTL Land and Development Bhd.

In the past year, YTL Corp’s share price shed 22% to RM1.34 from RM1.72, while YTL Power International’s counter was 14% lower at RM1.36 from RM1.58.

YTL Land and Development was down 1.75%. YTL Hospitality was Yeoh’s only entity which fared better, albeit marginally at 0.84%.

For the purpose of creating this list, our research team considered only wealth derived by Bursa-listed and related businesses. Given that many of these billionaires also have non-listed businesses, it is fair to assume their individual overall wealth could be significantly higher.


More billionaires

The number of billionaires increased to 33 from last year’s 31, with eight new ones and those from our 2015 list.

They include Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd’s Datuk Koon Poh Keong, MyEG Services Bhd’s Wong Thean Soon and AirAsia Bhd’s Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and Datuk Kamarudin Meranun.

GD Express Carrier Bhd’s Teong Teck Lean and Scientex Bhd’s Lim Peng Jin also joined the list along with Yinson Holdings Bhd’s Lim Han Weng and Dialog Group Bhd’s Tan Sri Ngau Boon Keat (see sidebar).

Several of those featured last year failed to maintain their positions after their net worth fell below the billion-ringgit mark. They are YTL Corporation Bhd’s Datuk Yeoh Sook Hong (RM997 mil), Datuk Yeoh Sook Kian (RM964 mil) and Datuk Mark Yeoh Sook Kah (RM916 mil) and Sapura Energy’s Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir (RM911 mil).

Also out from the list are the late Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua (wife of Genting Group founder Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong), who passed away in August, and YTL Corp founder Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay, who passed away this month.

The new faces

Datuk Koon Poh Keong, 56
Group CEO, Press 
Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd
RM6.407 bil


Koon co-founded Press Metal in 1986 with his brothers Datuk Koon Poh Tat, Poh Weng and Poh Kong, who are also executive directors. Koon, the largest shareholder with a 42.76% stake, has more than 30 years’ experience in the aluminium industry.

Press Metal started as an aluminium extruder producing semi-finished aluminium extruded products. In 2007, it expanded into aluminium smelting, making primary aluminium materials such as ingots and billets. The company is one of the largest aluminium smelters in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, with an annual smelting capacity of 760,000 tonnes.

Its share price jumped 157.47% to close at RM4 on Oct 19 from RM1.55 a year ago. This generated a market capitalisation of RM14.79 bil, up 158.26% year-on-year (yoy). For its Q2 ended June 30, net profit rose 5.95% to RM190.798 mil, from RM180.08 mil in the previous corresponding quarter. It was due mainly to additional production by its Samalaju phase 2 smelting plant and higher metal price.

Wong Thean Soon, 46
MD, My EG Services Bhd
RM2.854 bil


Wong has been the MD of My EG Services since he founded the company on Feb 17, 2000.

Wong, who has a 39.18% stake, formulates and implements business policies and corporate strategies as well as spearheads its progress and development.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the National University of Singapore. He began his career in the ICT industry in 1995 with Cybersource Pte Ltd in Singapore as co-founder and executive director.

My EG is principally engaged in developing and implementing electronic government services and providing related services. Its share price rose 25.72% to RM2.02, from RM1.61 a year ago. This translated to a 25.31% increase in market capitalisation to RM7.25 bil from RM5.78 bil.

For its Q4 ended June 30, the company’s net profit grew 15.25% to RM58.72 mil from RM50.95 mil in the previous corresponding quarter. It was attributed mainly to higher transaction volumes from its online renewal of foreign workers’ permits (FWP), foreign worker rehiring programme services (FWR) and foreign workers’ insurance from both FWP and FWR services.

Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, 54
Co-founder and group CEO, AirAsia Bhd
RM2.058 bil


AirAsia recorded its highest five-year share price of RM3.56 on May 15, However, it lost some ground to close at RM3.38 on Oct 19, which was still 18.18% higher than last year’s RM2.86. It had a market capitalisation of RM11.5 bil, up 44.44% from RM7.96 bil a year earlier, making Fernandes a Bursa billionaire.

Fernandes, who holds a 15.96% stake in the company, married his South Korean girlfriend Chloe in France on Oct 14. He started his career in Richard Branson’s Virgin Group as an accountant in London. Before entering the airline business, he was Warner Music Group’s vice-president for Southeast Asia from 1999 to 2001.

In 2001, Fernandes co-founded AirAsia with his business partner and long-time friend, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun. Since then, he has been the company’s group CEO. He is also a non-executive director of AirAsia X Bhd.

In October last year, Fernandes was awarded Airline CEO of the Year by aviation consultancy CAPA Centre for Aviation for steering AirAsia to higher profitability.

Datuk Kamarudin Meranun, 56
Co-founder and executive chairman
AirAsia Bhd
RM2.005 bil


Being the other key person who took AirAsia to success, Kamarudin, along with his business partner and long-time friend Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, has also emerged as a Bursa billionaire. He has a 14.64% stake in the company.

Prior to co-founding AirAsia, he worked at Arab-Malaysian Merchant Bank from 1988 to 1993 as a portfolio manager, managing both institutional and high net-worth individual clients’ investment funds. In 1994, he was appointed executive director of Innosabah Capital Management Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Innosabah Securities Sdn Bhd. He later acquired the shares of the joint-venture partner of Innosabah Capital Management, which was renamed Intrinsic Capital Management Sdn Bhd. He is also group CEO of AirAsia X Bhd.

For its Q2FY17, AirAsia’s revenue grew 19% to RM2.38 bil from RM1.99 bil in Q2FY16 after consolidating Indonesia AirAsia (IAA) and Philippines AirAsia Group results in Q2FY16.

However, its net profit fell 53% to RM139.88 mil from RM298.34 mil, due to a one-off deferred tax charge of 647.2 bil rupiah (RM212 mil) offset by a 134.4 bil rupiah (RM44 mil) current tax credit in IAA in Q2FY17.

For the remaining quarters of FY17, the group remains optimistic it will continue to see strong demand across most sectors, coupled with stable fuel prices and a foreign exchange environment.

Teong Teck Lean, 57
 MD and group CEO, GD Express Carrier Bhd
 RM1.35 bil


GD Express Carrier (GDex), one of the fastest-growing logistics companies in Malaysia, was established in 1997 to provide express delivery services for both domestic and international markets.

In 2000, Teong acquired a controlling stake in GDex. He and his team overhauled the business model and turned around the company. GDex was listed on Bursa’s MESDAQ Market (now ACE Market) in 2005.

Teong, who has a 37.26% stake in the company, completed his degree in electrical and electronics engineering at the University of Manitoba, Canada in 1983. He started his career as an engineer with Texas Instruments in 1984. He later joined Lembaga Letrik Negara (now Tenaga Nasional Bhd) where he was a consumer engineer for four years.

Before venturing into the logistics business, he was in the stock broking industry and became a dealer with OSK Securities Bhd in 1990. His industry exposure helped develop his extensive contacts and skills in managing a service -centric business.

On Oct 19, GDex’s share price closed at 65 sen, up 53.85% from 42 sen a year ago. Its market capitalisation grew 55.05% yoy to RM3.62 bil from RM2.34 bil, making Teong a new Bursa billionaire.

Lim Peng Jin, 50
MD, Scientex Bhd
RM1.253 bil


Lim is the largest shareholder of Scientex with a 29.18% stake. The company was founded by his father Teck Meng in 1968 as a manufacturer of PVC leather cloths and sheetings.

Today, Scientex is one of the world’s largest producers of industrial stretch films which are exported to over 60 countries. It is also a property developer in Johor, Melaka and Perak.

Lim graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tokyo, Japan in 1990. He started his career in the chemical industry in Japan before joining Scientex in 1991.

He completed a course in Programme Management Development at Harvard University, USA in 1998. He was appointed to Scientex’s board on Jan 20, 1995 as group executive director, and was redesignated MD on Nov 6, 2001.

For its Q4 ended July 31, the company’s net profit rose 34.26% to RM73.21 mil from RM54.53 mil in the previous corresponding quarter. It was due mainly to higher sales for both its consumer and industrial packaging as well as a good take-up rate for its properties.

Lim Han Weng, 65
Group executive chairman, Yinson Holdings Bhd
RM1.226 bil


Lim founded Yinson in 1983 as a transport agency in Johor Bahru with business ventures in logistics services and commodity trading. It was listed on Bursa Malaysia on July 11, 1996 and by 2007, had become one of the leading local transport companies with 365 trucks. Lim has a 29.64% stake in the company.

In 2011, the company ventured into the oil and gas (O&G) business by entering into a consortium agreement with PetroVietnam Technical Services Corporation.

The joint venture was subsequently awarded a contract to provide a floating storage and offloading vessel. Last year, the group disposed of its non-O&G business to focus on becoming a full-fledged floating production storage and offloading vessel company.

For its Q2 ended July 31, the group’s net profit rose 38.23% to RM83.57 mil from RM60.45 in the preceding year’s corresponding quarter. It was attributed mainly to better profit contribution on higher revenue from the marine business and lower impairment loss on trade and other receivables.

Its share price rose 18.01% to RM3.80, from RM3.22 a year earlier. This translated into a yoy growth of 13.21% in its market capitalisation to RM3.97 bil from RM3.51 bil.

Tan Sri Ngau Boon Keat, 69
Executive chairman, Dialog Group Bhd
RM1.156 bil


Dialog provides integrated technical services to the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors in the O&G and petrochemical industries.

Ngau, who co-founded the group in 1984, has served as executive chairman since 1999. He has a 9.28% stake in the company. He is also the founder and trustee of MyKasih Foundation, a non-profit organisation which provides food aid, health awareness and financial literacy programmes, children’s education, and skill training programmes to less fortunate Malaysians.

Ngau graduated with a bachelor’s degree (honours) in mechanical engineering and an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He began his career as a refinery engineer with Mobil Singapore Pte Ltd in 1972. Before founding Dialog, he also worked at Petronas from 1975 to 1980 where he held various positions from production engineer to engineering manager.

For its Q4 ended June 30, the group posted a higher net profit of RM100.8 mil, from RM78.23 mil in the preceding corresponding quarter. The growth was due mainly to higher revenue contribution from the group’s joint ventures.

Moving forward, Dialog remains confident that its well-structured business model can withstand the oil price volatility and currency movements.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 256.