Asia self-made entrepreneurs' wealth up 52 per cent

Asia self-made entrepreneurs' wealth up 52 per cent
Mr Li Ka-shing tops the list for the second consecutive year.

The combined wealth of self-made entrepreneurs with a primary business address in Asia has surged by more than half in the last year alone.

The top 10 this year are worth US$169.9 billion (S$212.2 billion), up 52 per cent from US$112 billion last year, according to Wealth X.

Topping the list, for a second consecutive year, is Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing with an estimated net worth of US$29.4 billion. The 85-year-old founding chairman of Cheung Kong Holdings made the bulk of his wealth from property investments.

Mr Li also owns Hutchison Whampoa, through which he controls a significant portion of the world's container terminal business.

China's rapid economic rise has had a strong influence on the rich list. Including Mr Li, seven of the top 10 are from China or its Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong. Together, they are worth US$128.7 billion, or 70 per cent of the total wealth of the 10 people on the list.

Three of the seven do their business in mainland China. They are fourth-placed Wang Jianlin of the Dalian Wanda Group, Internet mogul Ma Huateng of Tencent Holdings in eighth position and clean energy industrialist Li Hejun of Hanergy Holding Group in 10th spot.

The Hong Kong-based entrepreneurs on the list included real estate tycoon Lee Shau Kee, K Wah Group and Galaxy Entertainment Group's Lui Che Woo, in second and third place, respectively. and Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok, in sixth position.

Wealth X, which compiled the list, looked at the primary business address of the entrepreneurs and that is why Mr Kuok, whose Kuok Group is based in Hong Kong, is listed under the Chinese administrative region and not Malaysia.

Although there are no Singapore- based businessmen on the list, Thailand's Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, whose Thai Beverage is listed on the Singapore Exchange and who is also the chairman of Singapore's Fraser and Neave, came in at No 9.

Ironically, Mr Sirivadhanabhakdi was No 4 last year when his wealth was just US$10.7 billion. This year, his wealth has increased to US$11.3 billion.

Japan's Masayoshi Sen, the founder and CEO of telecommunication and Internet giant Softbank, was fifth on the list. The 56-year-old is estimated to be worth US$16.4 billion and is reportedly the only billionaire to have climbed the list, by one spot, from last year.

Indian pharmaceutical king Dilip Shanghvi was in seventh position. The founder and managing director of India's largest drugmaker, Sun Pharmaceuticals, was recently in the news after his company agreed to buy Ranbaxy Laboratories from Japan's Daiichi Sankyo for US$3.2 billion, creating the world's fifth-largest maker of generic drugs, CNBC reported.

This article was published on May 3 in The Business Times.

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