13 newcomers in Malaysia's billionaire club

KUALA LUMPUR - Thirteen newcomers have joined Malaysia's billionaire club, with Hong Kong-based Robert Kuok taking the pole position for the ninth year in the latest Forbes Malaysia Rich List.

Ninety-year-old Kuok, who built a massive business empire that include palm oil, shipping, media, hotels and real estate, has assets worth US$11.5bil (S$14.6 billion).

The developer of the Kuok Group has led the pack since 2006, although his worth slightly dipped by US$1.1bil last year.

Communications tycoon Tan Sri T. Ananda Krishnan also retained his second spot, with a net worth of US$11.2bil.

Ananda, whose empire comprises telecommunications company Maxis Communications Bhd, pay TV and power generation, also saw a slight drop in his wealth from the previous year's US$11.7bil.

Genting Malaysia Bhd chairman and chief executive Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, who runs casinos in the Bahamas, London, Singapore, Manila and New York besides the home-grown casino in Genting Highlands, takes the third spot, with shares worth US$6.5bil, with his mother, Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua and other family members.

Moving up one notch to the fourth place, property mogul and Hong Leong Group chairman Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan saw his fortune increase to US$6.4bil from US$1.6bil, making him the biggest gainer in terms of dollars.

Brothers Tan Sri Shahril Shamsuddin and Datuk Shahriman Shamsuddin of Sapura Group, at No 11, saw their net worth jump by a third to US$1.4bil from US$1.05bil.

Despite the volatile global economy, Malaysia now has 18 billionaires, with Thai national and long time Malaysian resident Tan Sri Surin Upatkoon, ranked 13th.

Listed for the first time, Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir, a son of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, sits at No 15 after getting a 22 per cent lift from his oil-and-gas stock.

Another notable first-time billionaire is Tropicana founder and executive vice-chairman Tan Sri Danny Tan Chee Sing at the 16th spot, who saw his wealth surge by 121 per cent to US$1.15bil from US$520mil last year.