Malaysia's top 10 richest see fortunes drop amid Covid-19 outbreak, still worth billions

Tan Sri Robert Kuok saw his wealth shrink by more than US$1 billion in the past year. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Tan Sri Robert Kuok saw his wealth shrink by more than US$1 billion in the past year. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — The top ten wealthiest businessmen and tycoons in Malaysia have lost billions for the second straight year running, due to factors including the Covid-19 outbreak, a weaker ringgit, and a nearly 10 per cent decline in the country’s benchmark stock index.

According to a release by Forbes today, although many of last year's list retained their top ten positions, none were unaffected by the economic and health factors leading up to 2020.

Sugar tycoon Tan Sri Robert Kuok, long considered Malaysia's wealthiest tycoon, saw his wealth shrink by more than US$1 billion (RM4.17 billion) in the past year despite retaining his number one position, down to a present worth of US$11.5 billion (RM47.95 billion)

Public Bank founder and chairman Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow was the hardest hit among the top ten, going down from third place in 2019 to fifth place in 2020 at US$4.85 billion (RM20.22 billion), having lost US$1.85 (RM7.71 billion) in the past year due to Public Bank's shares declining roughly by 30 per cent.

Maxis Bhd tycoon Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan took third place, listed at US$9.7 billion (RM40.45 billion) but whose wealth dropped by as much as US$300 million (RM1.25 billion) compared to last year.

Number seven on the list is Genting Group chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay at US$3.2 billion (RM13.34 billion) whose wealth fell by US$1.2 billion (RM5 billion) in the past year, followed by number 10 on the list, Sabah tycoon Tan Sri Lau Cho Kun at US$2.3 billion (RM9.59 billion) whose wealth fell by US$1.1 billion (RM4.59 billion)

However, several others appear to have prospered, including Hong Leong Group co-founder Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan, who retained his second place for 2020 at US$9.7 billion (RM40.45 billion) and saw US$300 million (RM1.25 billion) added to his fortune.

On ninth spot is Hartalega Holdings Berhad chairman Kuan Kam Hon, whose company is the world’s largest maker of nitrile gloves. 2020 saw his wealth grow by US$400 million (RM1.66 billion) to US$2.8 billion (RM11.68 billion) compared to US$2.4 billion (RM10.01 billion) last year.

Forbes Malaysia's 2020 top 10 richest list also saw several newcomers, such as the sons of IOI Group founder the late Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, Datuk Lee Yeow Chor, and Lee Yeow Seng, valued at a combined US$4.8 billion (RM20.01 billion).

Last year, the Pakatan Harapan administration had announced that Putrajaya will raise the tax bracket for millionaires earning RM2 million and onwards to 30 per cent, while tabling Budget 2020.

It remains to be seen if the policy will be kept under the new Perikatan Nasional administration that took over earlier this week.

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