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Forrest Li's wife buys Gallop Road GCB for $42.5m

Forrest Li's wife buys Gallop Road GCB for $42.5m
The house Ma Liqian is buying has a long driveway.
PHOTO: The Business Times reader

SEA Ltd boss Forrest Li is expanding his family's presence in the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) market in Gallop Road near the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

His wife, Ma Liqian, is acquiring a $42.5 million old bungalow next to the one Li has nearly finished redeveloping. Both properties are on freehold land. The price that Ma is paying works out to S$2,544 per square foot (psf) on the land area of 16,703 square feet (sq ft). The site has a long driveway.

The couple are Singapore citizens.

Li paid $26 million or $1,722 psf in December 2018 for the old bungalow next door on a 15,100 sq ft site. This has been redeveloped into a two-storey detached house, with a basement, an attic and a swimming pool.

Ma is buying the property from the children of the late kidney doctor Gordon Ku, who founded Kidney Dialysis Foundation. Dr Ku died in February 2023.

Both bungalows are part of the Gallop Road/Woollerton Park GCB Area.

Li, who is in his late 40s, is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of New York-listed Sea.

Sea started out with Garena, a video gaming business Li founded in 2009. E-commerce platform Shopee and digital financial services unit SeaMoney were added later. Sea was listed in New York Stock Exchange in 2017.


In March this year, Sea announced its first profitable year on record, with earnings of US$162.7 million for 2023, reversing from a loss of US$1.7 billion in 2022. However, this missed analysts' estimates of US$301.7 million.

Revenue for the period rose 4.9 per cent to US$13.1 billion from US$12.4 billion a year prior, exceeding analysts' forecasts of US$12.9 billion.

Earnings were bolstered by e-commerce arm Shopee booking profits for the first two quarters of 2023. E-commerce revenue for 2023 rose 23.5 per cent to US$9 billion from US$7.3 billion in 2022. The business unit booked a loss of US$550.5 million for the year.

Li, who hails from Tianjin, holds a bachelor's degree in engineering from Shanghai Jiaotong University. He moved to Singapore after completing an MBA at Stanford University. He was named Businessman of the Year for 2019/2020 at the 35th Singapore Business Awards in November 2020, organised by The Business Times and DHL Express Singapore.

In his acceptance speech, the self-made billionaire said: "Singapore took me in when I was a nobody. I came here with barely any savings, and a hundred thousand dollars in student loan debt. My wife and I could only rent one bedroom in a three-room HDB flat in Braddell."

Bungalows in the 39 gazetted GCB Areas are the most prestigious form of landed housing in Singapore, with strict planning conditions to preserve their exclusivity and low-rise character. With only around 2,700 such properties on the island, there is thus "rarity value" to owning one of these homes.

One generally has to be a Singapore citizen to be allowed to buy a landed property in a GCB Area.

ALSO READ: Crazy rich Singaporean - Sea CEO Forrest Li is richest man in town with $27b fortune

This article was first published in The Business Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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