Number of billionaires rises in Singapore rich list

SINGAPORE - Singapore's billionaire ranks have surged to a total of 21 individuals and families, according to the widely tracked Forbes Singapore 2013 rich list.

Joining the billionaires' club for the first time are five individuals, including Osim International founder and chief executive Ron Sim at 21st spot with a net worth of US$1 billion (S$1.28 billion).

The rise in his fortune was aided by a two-fold increase in Osim's share price in the past year and new information on his private assets, said Forbes.

The wealth of Singapore's 50 richest is collectively worth a whopping US$80 billion.

Last year, the combined wealth of Forbes' list of 40 richest people and families here came up to US$59.4 billion.

The 2013 assessment is based on data collected over a one-year period to Aug 16.

Perched atop the affluent list are brothers Robert and Philip Ng, sons of the late founder of Far East Organisation, Mr Ng Teng Fong.

The property magnates retained their top position with a net worth of US$10.6 billion, up from US$9.2 billion a year ago.

Mr Kwek Leng Beng, 72, executive chairman of Singapore's second largest property developer City Developments, saw a sharp jump in net wealth. The tycoon vaulted to become the second richest in the city-state from sixth position last year.

The inclusion of a broader group of assets and more shares acquired by his family drove his net worth higher by US$2.4 billion to US$7.1 billion.

The pie of the moneyed lot may be growing, but the wheels of fortune may reverse for those holding property assets in Singapore given recent developments.

Forbes said the property market here is showing signs of cooling, owing to a string of curbs to prevent a bubble.

Despite recent market turmoil, Forbes said Singapore remains a safe haven for Asian capital, drawing the likes of Myanmar property mogul Serge Pun, a Singapore permanent resident who is the chairman and chief executive of locally listed Yoma Strategic Holdings.

With a net worth of US$500 million, he makes it to 38th position on the list.

Making it to the 50th spot with a net worth of US$305 million is Mr Chew Thiam Keng, CEO of marine services firm Ezion Holdings.

Only seven on the list this year saw a decline in their fortunes while the founder of Hyflux, Ms Olivia Lum, fell off the chart as the water treatment firm's revenues dipped 25 per cent in the second quarter due to weak sales in China.

Forbes calculated the net worth of the rich list based on stock prices and exchange rates as of Aug 16.

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