Sunday, March 16, 2014

2014 World's Richest by Country - Asia and Pacific


LI KA-SHING, 85 years old, $31 Billion, Diversified (No. 20 World’s Richest)
Li Ka-shing
One of the world's great empire builders Li Ka-shing oversees a far-reaching conglomerate with 270,000 employees in 52 countries. The richest person in Asia, he could be a lot wealthier if he so chose. The reason: Li is probably the only person on earth who invested in Facebook as a high-stakes hobby and made no money from it. Li bet on Facebook, a decision he says took him five minutes to make in December 2007, through his charitable La Ka Shing Foundation. In fact, all of his tech bets, whether in Spotify, Siri, or more recently Bitcoin payment service provider, BitPay, benefit the foundation, not him. Still his stakes in Hutchinson Whampoa, Cheung Kong and Husky Energy, plus rich dividends of $1.7 billion in just the past two years, allow him to hold onto the top spot in his region. Born in Chaozhou in China's Guangdong Province, Li and his family had to flee to Hong Kong during the Sino-Japanese war. Not long after their arrival Li's father, who had been a primary school principal in China, died from tuberculosis. At age 12 he quit school and started as an apprentice in a watch-strap factory. By 14 he was working full-time in a plastics trading company to help support his family. In 1950 Li quit to start his own business making plastic toys and everyday items. He retooled his factory to focus on plastic flowers after learning about their popularity in Italy from trade journals, figuring they offered him better business prospects. He named his first company Cheung Kong, after the Yangtze River, whose power comes from a confluence of countless smaller streams.


            MUKESH AMBANI, 56 years old, $18.6 Billion, Petrochemicals, Oil & Gas (No. 40 World’s Richest)
Mukesh Ambani
Worth $43 billion in 2008 when he was the world's fifth richest person, Mukesh Ambani has seen a steep decline in his fortune since then, a $2.9 billion drop in the past year alone. Regardless, he remains India's richest person and is still bullish; says he plans to invest $25 billion in his businesses over the next 2 years. Amid falling output from his Reliance Industries' KG-D6 offshore oilfield, the government finally approved the doubling of the nation's gas prices, effective April, 2014. Meantime, his telecom arm Reliance Jio Infocomm which is preparing to roll out 4G services with help from brother Anil's company, snatched additional telecom spectrum for $1.8 billion in a February auction. A vegetarian and animal lover, Ambani recently banned his Reliance Retail chain from selling non-vegetarian items. His older son Akash, an undergrad from Brown University, has started working at Reliance Jio.


            MASAYOSHI SON, 56 years old, $18.4 Billion, Internet & Telecom (No. 42 World’s Richest)
Masayoshi Son
Taking the top spot as Japan's richest, the billionaire founder of Softbank, Asia's top Internet venture, has no plans to stop expanding his empire anytime soon. Son has been on a buying spree in the past year, including acquiring approximately 72% of Sprint for some $21.6 billion and a $1.26 billion investment in mobile phone distributor Brightstar. The Japanese group also just bought a majority stake in Finnish game maker Supercell for $1.5 billion. Son reportedly acquired a $117 million estate in Woodside, California in 2012, the highest purchase price ever recorded for a U.S. home.


            GINA RINEHART, 60 years old, $17.7 Billion, Mining (No. 46 World’s Richest)
Gina Rinehart
Australia's biggest private taxpayer, Gina Rinehart expects this year to finalize her biggest deal yet, a $7 billion debt package to develop one of the world's largest iron ore mines. A bet on coal paid off handsomely when she sold out before the price fell. The family firm, Hancock Prospecting, is now adding oil and gas to the portfolio. Family infighting over a 23.5% stake in the business likely to reach a courtroom showdown this year. She inherited her mining assets from her father, Lang Hancock. Her second husband died in 1990.


            WANG JIANLIN, 59 years old, $15.1 Billion, Real Estate (No. 64 World’s  Richest)
Wang Jianlin
The richest man on mainland China, Wang Jianlin, owns 75 department stores, 85 shopping plazas and 51 five star hotels. After buying U.S. movie chain AMC in 2012, Wang listed it on the New York Stock Exchange in December. 2013. He flew in celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio and John Travolta to help launch an $8 billion mini-Hollywood in the coastal city of Qingdao in September 2013. Wang, born in Sichuan Province in 1954 just after the Communist revolution, spent the first few decades of his life in anything but luxury. In 1970, Wang entered the military, where he remained until 1986 when he took a city government job in Dalian in Liaoning Province. Wang became chairman of Wanda, which was government-run, in 1989 at age 35.


            ROBERT KUOK, 90 years old, $11.5 Billion, Diversified (No. 95 World’s  Richest)
Robert Kuok
Sudden resignation of Robert Kuok's eldest son, Kuok Khoon Chen, from his Kuok Group's Kerry Properties to take the helm of Shangri-La (Asia) touched off speculation of a power struggle in his family for control of an empire that spans the region. Amid falling earnings and the listing of Kerry's logistics unit, Kerry's shares plunged in 2013. The Chinese Malaysian tycoon made his money in sugar, palm oil, shipping and property. The Kuok Group boasts a huge network of companies under 3 main groups in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Biggest source of wealth is his stake in Wilmar, the world's largest listed palm oil company. Wilmar is run by his nephew, Kuok Khoon Hong, a Singapore citizen who's also a billionaire thanks to his 10% stake in the company. Robert Kuok also controls Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, once the world's most profitable daily newspaper.


            HENRY SY, 89 years old, $11.4 Billion, Diversified (No. 97 World’s  Richest)
Henry Sy
The Philippines' richest person, Henry Sy, merged his vast property assets under mall operator SM Prime Holdings to create a company with a recent market cap of $9.3 billion. In November his property unit SM Land snatched a $1.2 billion contract to reclaim land in Manila, next to his Mall of Asia complex. Despite big moves, Sy's fortune dropped by $1.8 billion mainly because shares of his holding firm SM Investments tumbled 30% in the past year. They took a hit when the company sold some shares to institutional investors at a discount to market price. Son Henry Sy Jr chairs SM Prime, while son Hans is group president.


            DHANIN CHEARAVANONT, 74 years old, $11.4 Billion, Food (No. 97 World’s Richest)
Dhanin Chearavanont
Thailand's wealthiest man, Dhanin Chearavanont, led an acquisition spree in 2013 at home and abroad, making more than half of the $31 billion in total business deals announced in Thailand that year. Though his bids fell through for Hong Kong supermarket chain ParknShop and Chinese supermarket operator Wumart Stores, he expanded his conglomerate Charoen Pokphand's core businesses in agribusiness, food, telecommunications, retail and distribution. Among his 2013 deals: a $6.6 billion offer by his CP All, the world's third-largest operator of 7-Eleven stores to acquire discount retailer Siam Makro. He also bought a 15% stake in Ping An Insurance for $9.4 billion. Backed by UBS, the purchase was the biggest-ever foreign acquisition of Chinese stock. His mobile phone company, True, operates the country's largest residential broadband network. His net worth includes shares he owns together with his three brothers, Jaran Chiaravanont, Montri Jiaravanont and Sumet Jiaravanont.


            LEE KUN-HEE, 72 years old, $11.1 Billion, Samsung (No. 102 World’s Richest)
Lee Kun-hee
Lee Kun-Hee is chairman of Korea's largest conglomerate, Samsung Group, which accounts for around 20% of Korea's gross domestic product. His stakes in the group's two most important companies, Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance, have made him Korea's wealthiest individual. Under his leadership, Samsung Electronics has become one world's most recognized, high-quality electronics brands. It's the leading maker of smartphones, thanks to its flagship Galaxy model. Shipments have recently slowed, however, as the market anxiously awaits the introduction this spring of the new Galaxy S5, which will be paired with a new wearable device with advanced functions -- a successor to the Galaxy Gear smartwatch -- and may also include eye scanner (iris recognition) technology. The smartphone slowdown has taken a bite out of Lee's fortune, as shares of Samsung Electronics, also a leading producer of flat-screen TVs and memory chips, have fallen about 17% from their all-time high in January 2013. Chairman Lee is an avid equestrian and also likes cars and classical music. As a member of the International Olympic Committee, he successfully led Korea's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.


            ROBERT and PHILIP NG, $11 Billion, Real Estate (No. 106 World’s Richest)
Robert Ng
Brothers Robert (pictured) and Philip Ng inherited a property empire from their late father Ng Teng Fong who developed more than 700 hotels, malls and condos in Singapore and Hong Kong. Private real estate holdings through family's Far East Organization are valued at more than $6 billion. In an Australian expansion, the brothers bought Sydney landmark, the Clocktower Square, for $64 million in October and Perth's Harbour Town Center, a shopping complex, for $183 million through their Singapore-listed Far East Hospitality Trust. In November, they paid $6.2 million for an Australian heritage retreat on Scotland Island in New South Wales that is accessible only by boat. The largest part of their public fortune is in Tsim Sha Tsui Properties, chaired by eldest sibling, Robert, in Hong Kong. Philip oversees the Singapore interests.


            TSAI ENG-MENG, 57 years old, $9.5 Billion, Food & Beverages (No. 130 World’s Richest)
Tsai Eng-meng
Taiwan is best known around the world for its electronics industry and its manufacturing ties to Apple, H-P and others. Yet its richest man is from the snack food business. Tsai Eng-Meng, chairman of Want Want China, holds the top spot again this year with a fortune worth $9.5 billion mainly from his success in introducing quirky snacks and beverages in the mainland. Controversial at home in Taiwan for what are seen as pro-China political views, Tsai also invests in media, financial services and hotels.


            R. BUDI HARTONO, 73 years old, $7.6 Billion, Banking & Tobacco (No. 173 World’s Richest)
Budi Hartono
R. Budi Hartono remains the richest in Indonesia despite a $900 million drop in his fortune in the past 12 months. His biggest holding is in Bank Central Asia, Indonesia's largest private bank, which he controls with brother Michael, also a billionaire but listed separately. Budi's youngest son, Armand has been a director since 2009. His other son Martin invests in Internet outfits. Brothers also own kretek maker Djarum, founded by their father and named after the needle of a gramophone, and have a stake in telecom outfit Sarana Menara Nusantara.


GRAEME HART, 58 years old, $7 Billion, Investments (No. 191 World’s Richest)
Graeme Hart
Despite eye-watering debt levels, New Zealand's richest person is up more than $2 billion since last year. Most of the gain is thanks to his global packaging empire, Reynolds Group Holdings, which now has annual revenue of about $14 billion after a string of big acquisitions in the past few years. The low-profile Hart also owns Carter Holt Harvey, an Australasian paper, packing and building supplies company, and the US-based UCI-FRAM group, which controls several major automobile components brands. Over the years, Hart's umbrella private investment holding company, Rank Group, has used leveraged buyouts to swallow underperforming businesses that produce goods needed by people every day, including trash bags, milk cartons, water bottles, paper and foil. He left school at 16.


            BULAT UTEMURATOV, 56 years old, $2.2 Billion, Mining, Banking & Hotel (No. 796 World’s Richest)
Bulat Utemuratov
Kazahk banker and investor Bulat Utemuratov has been growing his bank and real estate portfolio after his 2013 sale of mining assets to Glencore Xstrata and the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund. He is building twin $300 million high rises in the Kazakh capital of Astana which reportedly will serve as an office for Glencore Xstrata and headquarters for his asset management company, Verniy Capital. He opened a luxury resort on Lake Shuckie in northern Kazakhstan in high style with the Pet Shop Boys and the Kazakh national synchronized swimming team performing. He owns Ritz Carltons in Vienna and Moscow. He is also a partner in KaR-Tel, the Kazakh subsidiary of Russia's Vimpelcom, controlled by billionaire Mikhail Fridman. He made his first fortune in 2007 when he sold his ATF Bank to Italian bank UniCredit for $2.1 billion. An avid tennis player, he heads the Kazakh Tennis Federation.


            DAVID CHOW, 64 years old, $1.8 Billion, Casinos (No. 988 World’s Richest)
David Chow
Billionaires list following the listing of casino and hotel operator Macau Legend on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last year. Along with several Hong Kong-based billionaires, Chow has thrived from a visitor boom that has turned the former Portuguese colony into the world's top gambling mecca. Chow, Macau Legend's co-chairman and its CEO, is a former Macau legislator, and holds top posts in numerous Macau business groups. His mother Lam Fong Ngo, who sits on Macau Legend's board, is also now a billionaire.


            PHAM NHAT VUONG, 45 years old, $1.6 Billion, Real Estate (No. 1092 World’s Richest)
Pham Nhat Vuong
Pham Nhat Vuong, founder and chairman of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, remains the country's sole billionaire. In the past year, Vuong has been busy raising funds, netting $1 billion through a mix of asset sales, loans, private equity deals to fund dozens of property projects across the country. He also completed two major property developments including Vincom Mega Mall Royal City, touted as Asia's largest underground retail and entertainment complex. Moves boosted Vingroup's shares by 15% in the past year. Vuong studied in Moscow, then moved to Ukraine where he started Technocom, a maker of instant noodles. He returned to Vietnam in 2001 to plunge into real estate, eventually selling his foods company in 2009 to Nestle. Vingroup's other assets include hotels, education and healthcare.


            BINOD CHAUDHARY, 58 years old, $1.1 Billion, Diversified (No. 1465 World’s Richest)
Binod Chaudhary
After debuting on the Forbes billionaire ranks last year, Binod Chaudhary who built most of his fortune overseas, remains Nepal's only billionaire. His conglomerate, the Cinnovation/CG Group's assets include a controlling stake in Nepal's Nabil Bank, a fast growing foods business best known for instant noodle brand Wai Wai and a string of hotels in Asia and more recently, in Africa where in a joint venture with Uganda's Mukwano group he's building hotels in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Last year, CG diversified into telecom when it bought out ST Telecom, a rural telecom operator. Chaudhary, who never went to college, joined the family's textile trading business four decades ago and went on to expand his inheritance overseas. His three sons work with him; the eldest Nirvaan oversees interests in Nepal while Rahul and Varun are stationed abroad.

Reference: Forbes

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