Malaysia’s billionaire list shrinks 

Ananda Krishnan: a solid second. Source: Flickr

The Malaysian rich list saw the number of billionaires shrink from 16 in 2015 to 12 this year, according to Forbes Malaysia Rich List.

The falling number was blamed on the Chinese slowdown and political instability that had hurt business. The falling fuel prices has taken a toll on the eight billionaires linked to the energy sector.

It means that to make the top 50 this year, the super-rich needed US$195 million, the lowest since 2013. In 2015 it was US$240 million.

The top 10 richest Malaysians Robert Kuok with US$10 billion, Ananda Krishnan US$7.4 billion, Quek Leng Chan with $5.3 billion, Teh Hong Piow who has US$4.65 billion, Lee Shin Cheng US$4.6 billion, Lim Kok Thay’s US$4.55 billion, Yeoh Tiong Lay with US$2.25 billion, Lau Cho Kun on US$1.55 billion, Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary who has US$1.45 billion and Surin Upatkoon US$1.15 billion.

The list was based on information given by the individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, private databases and government sources.

Kuok Group founder Robert Kuok, 92, popularly known as Malaysia’s “Sugar King”, came top spot for the 11th straight year. Second was telecoms mogul Ananda Krishnan, whose assets fell US$2.3 billion to US$7.4 billion. Shares of Maxis, his principal telecoms firm, fell on Kuala Lumpur’s proposal to redistribute and auction the telecom spectrum, causing fears of a costly bidding war. His pay TV operator, Astro Malaysia, saw its stock value slump when Netflix entered Malaysia in January.

Quek Leng Chan stayed third on the Forbes list despite his net worth declining US$300 million from a year ago to US$5.3 billion. His Hong Leong firm has interests in the finance, property and food sectors.

With the stock exchange slumping 8.7 per cent and the ringgit losing 12.6 per cent against the dollar, it was a difficult year for Malaysia’s business elite. The slowdown in China and the continuing political showdown in the capital also hurt business.

One of the hardest hit on this year’s list was technology entrepreneur Goh Peng Ooi, founder and principal shareholder of Singapore-listed Silverlake Axis Ltd, who dropped out of the billionaire ranks after his wealth dropped 53 per cent to US$725 million. Goh had a net worth of US$1.55 billion a year ago but in August his stock value fell after an anonymous short-seller said his financial software company, Silverlake Axis, inflated its results.