Southeast Asia has one of the largest and most dynamic economies in the world. If the economies of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) were one country, it would be the seventh largest in the world.
Asean’s GDP doubled between 2001 and 2013. This has made many people rich – some more than others.
Southeast Asian moguls feature quite prominently on Forbes World’s Billionaires 2018 list, with businesspeople from the region’s six largest economies: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Here’s the Asean rich list and how these folks made their money.
Vietnam – Pham Nhat Vuong (US$4.3 billion)
Pham Nhat Vuong is the richest person in Vietnam and came in at 499 in the world on Forbes’ list. He owns Vingroup, one of the country of more than 90 million’s largest conglomerates with business in real estate, retail and healthcare. He was Vietnam’s first billionaire, currently aged just 49 years old. Vuong’s Kind Heart Foundation is the largest foundation in Vietnam. Vuong’s wife Pham Thu Huong and sister-in-law Pham Thuy Hang are also among Vietnam’s richest people.
Singapore – Robert and Philip Ng (US$10.8 billion)
Robert and Philip Ng are the richest people in Southeast Asia’s financial capital Singapore and are ranked 140 in the world. Far East Organization is the name, property development is the game. The brothers inherited the firm from their billionaire father Ng Teng, a company which is the largest private landlord and property developer in the city-state. Their Hong Kong arm Sino Group is over seen by Robert, while Singapore interests are managed by Philip.
Malaysia – Robert Kuok (US$14.8 billion)
Malaysia’s richest man is Robert Kuok, who is the 98th richest billionaire in the world according to Forbes. He founded Shangri-la Hotels in Singapore back in 1971 and operates Kuok group, which has interests in hotels, real estate and commodities. Kuok also owns a stake in Wilmar International – the world’s largest palm oil trader. While Kuok is based in Hong Kong, he recently visited Malaysia after the election of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, praising him as having “saved the country”. “I need your help now,” replied the PM.
Thailand – Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi (US$17.9 billion)
Thailand’s richest person is Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. Forbes’ 65th richest billionaire is founder and chairman of Thai Beverage, the world’s largest brewer. Sirivadhanabhakdi is also chairman of Fraser & Neave, a Singapore-based food and beverage and property industries conglomerate. He owns property firm TCC Land and at least 50 hotels across Asia, in the US, UK and Australia. His family was granted the name “Sirivadhanabhakdi” by Thailand’s late King Bhumibol in 1988.
Philippines – Henry Sy (US$20 billion)
Having topped the Forbes Philippines Rich List for a decade running, Henry Sy is undeniably the country’s richest man. He is the founder of SM Prime Holdings which is the largest shopping mall and retail operator in the Philippines, as well as having interests in banking, mining, education and healthcare. Sy also has a stake in San Miguel, the largest publicly listed food, beverage and packaging company in Southeast Asia.
Indonesia – R. Budi Hartono (US$17.4 billion) and Michael Hartono (US$16.7 billion)
These brothers are the two richest men in Indonesia, with combined wealth of more than triple their Singaporean counterparts. R. Budi and Michael’s father Oei Wie Gwan owned one of the largest tobacco companies in Indonesia – Djarum – a country of 260 million with exceptionally high rates of smoking. Their wealth now lies in their investment in Bank Central Asia, one of Indonesia’s largest financial institutions. The Hartonos also own electronics manufacturer Polytron and real estate in the capital Jakarta.