Robert Kuok remains Malaysia’s richest person with a fortune of US$12.5 billion, according to the latest Forbes rich list.
Malaysia now also boasts of 14 billion-dollar fortunes, up from 11 a year ago.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index has moved up four percent over the past year and during this period, the country’s gross domestic product rose 6.4 percent.
In the process, a total of 23 tycoons on the list saw their wealth increase, with Robert Kuok heading it for the eighth straight year with a net worth of US$12.5 billion.
His holdings include the Shangri-La Hotels, Kerry Properties and the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper.
A close second is Ananda Krishnan (right) who saw his fortune rise from US$9.9 billion in 2012 to US$11.7 billion this year.
Among recent deals that added to his wealth was the sale of a stake in telecom giant Maxis and the listing of his pay-TV operator Astro, which he took private in 2010 and raised US$1.5 billion in the process.
He also sold the power business of privately held Tanjong for US$2.8 billion.
Lim Kok Thay, son of the late casino magnate Lim Goh Tong, runs Genting Group with resorts and casinos in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines and the United Kingdom and a 43 percent stake in a Norwegian Cruise Line.
He shares his net worth of US$6.6 billion with his 82-year-old mother Lee Kim Hua and other family members.
This year’s list of 50 richest in Malaysia includes nine new members.
Among the billionaires who made their debut was auto tycoon Tan Heng Chew and his family who ranked number 11 with a fortune of US$1.2 billion.
The family owns Tan Chong Motor Holdings which assembles motor vehicles, manufactures parts and trades industrial equipment and consumer goods.
Sapura Group brothers break into billionaire ranks
Shahril and Shahriman Shamsuddin, the brothers behind Sapura Group, also broke into the billionaire ranks after a US$3.7 billion merger of SapuraCrest and Kencana Petroleum (run by Mokhzani Mahathir, No. 15, US$980 million).
The two brothers come in at number 12 with a fortune of US$1.05 billion, up from US$845 million last year.
Last year was a lucky one for gaming tycoon, Chen Lip Keong, who founded Cambodian casino group NagaCorp, which has been raking in profits on gambling revenues.
NagaCorp owns a monopoly on casinos in Phnom Penh until 2035. He is also expanding into hotels, restaurants, retail and an entertainment complex set for completion in 2015.
This year, a minimum net worth of US$145 million was needed to qualify for the list which was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, private data bases, the Companies Commission of Malaysia and other sources.
Net worth figures are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on Feb 14, 2013. Private companies are valued by using financial ratios and other comparisons with similar companies that are publicly traded.
Several of the fortunes are shared among members of extended families and can’t be attributed entirely to the person listed.
The Forbes top 14 richest in Malaysia are:
1) Robert Kuok – US$12.5 billion,
2) Ananda Krishnan – US$11.7 billion
3) Lim Kok Thay – US$6.6 billion
4) Teh Hong Piow – US$5.6 billion
5) Quek Leng Chan – US$4.8 billion
6) Lee Shin Cheng – US$4.5 billion
7) Yeoh Tiong Lay – US$2.8 billion
8) Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary – US$2.75 billion
9) Tiong Hiew King – US$1.8 billion
10) Vincent Tan – US$1.3 billion
11) Tan Heng Chew – US$1.2 billion
12) Shahril & Shahriman Shamsuddin – $1.05 billion
13) Chen Lip Keong – US$1.01 billion
14) Lee Oi Hian & Lee Hau Hian – US$1 billion
Mokhzani Mahathir, who is ranked No 15, has a fortune of US$980 million, just US$20 million shy of joining the billionaires’ club.
The full list is available on http://www.forbes.com/malaysia, as well as in the latest issue of Forbes Asia, available now on newsstands.