News @ AsiaOne

Singapore tycoon Lim a sports fan and shrewd investor

Peter Lim, 57, is ranked as the eighth-richest Singaporean with an estimated wealth of $1.6 billion. -Reuters

Tue, Oct 12, 2010

By Kevin Lim and Charmian Kok

SINGAPORE, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, who plans to make an improved bid for Liverpool, is a shrewd investor and soccer fan whose name is more often associated with Manchester United, the Merseyside club's biggest rival.

Lim, 57, ranked as the eighth-richest Singaporean with an estimated wealth of $1.6 billion by Forbes, has exclusive rights to own and operate a chain of Manchester United-themed restaurants and bars in Asia.

Singapore-listed fashion retailer FJ Benjamin, in which Lim is the second-largest shareholder, previously operated the Manchester United Theatre of Dreams stores in the city-state.

Lim, the son of a fishmonger, made his fortune as a stock broker and became a private investor in 1996. He keeps a relatively low profile and rarely gives media interviews.

His key holdings include stakes in Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil firm, and regional education provider Informatics, which he turned around after the firm had fallen on hard times.

Earlier this month he invested about $100 million in Global Logistic Properties, a giant provider of warehouse facilities in China and Japan that is majority owned by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC.

People who know Lim said his interest in Liverpool stemmed from his love of soccer, and he recently donated S$10 million (S$7.65 million) to the Singapore Olympics Foundation for scholarships for promising young athletes from poor families.

But they added he would expect a financial return from Liverpool if successful with his bid and would not be content with just winning trophies.

"He is a shrewd investor and a contrarian investor who has turned around companies," said Mano Sabnani, a former newspaper editor and head of investment research at one of Singapore's big three banks.

"Liverpool is a brand name that has fallen on hard times... But if you take away the debt payments, the club is operationally profitable."

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