This article was first published on DollarsAndSense.sg.
As Singapore’s economy continues to recover from the pandemic, the uncertainty from COVID-19 does little to slow down the wealth accumulation of the richest. According to Credit Suisse global wealth report 2021, Singapore’s number of millionaires is expected to increase by 62% from 270,000 to 437,000 in 2025.
With newly minted billionaires from the technology and cryptocurrency scene, this year’s Forbes list of top 50 richest Singaporeans saw their wealth grew from $167 billion to $208 billion. Out of the 50 people, the top 10 occupy more than half of the wealth on the list. Here are the 10 juggernauts of wealth in Singapore.
#10 Khoo Family
Net Worth: $6.5B
In number 10 is the heirs of late banker and hotelier Khoo Teck Puat, a business tycoon who used to be the wealthiest in Singapore at one point in time. The family was involved in several banks including OCBC, Maybank and most prominently, Standard Chartered Bank.
Currently, the family owns the Goodwood Group of Hotels, including Singapore’s historic Goodwood Park Hotel. One of their family members is also a prominent local director – Eric Khoo, the owner of Zhao Wei Films.
Apart from banks and hospitality assets, the Khoo family also share their name with the public hospital Khoo Teck Puat. Opened in 2010, the hospital was funded by the family’s charity arm, The Khoo Foundation.
#9 Wee Cho Yaw
Net Worth: $6.8B
The owner of Southeast Asia’s third-largest bank, Wee Chow Yaw is currently Chairman Emeritus of United Overseas Ban (UOB)k. His oldest son Wee Ee Chong succeeded him as UOB’s CEO, while his younger son Wee Ee Lim has a board seat.
A juggernaut in Singapore’s financial and investment scene, the family has also branched into real estate and hospitality in recent years. The family has a majority stake in UOL, a leading property developer that owns the Pan Pacific hospitality brand.
#8 Kwek Leng Beng & Family
Net Worth: $8.5B
Sector: Real Estate
The Kwek family founded most of their wealth in banking and real estate. In the field of finance, Kwek Leng Beng is the executive chairman of Singapore’s Hong Leong Group which is Singapore’s largest finance company, with a network of 28 branches and 12 SME Centres.
He is also the executive chairman of City Developments (CDL), the second-largest property developer in Singapore. Notably, Kwek bought Plaza Hotel in New York City from Donald Trump back in 1995, together with Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud.
#7 Gang Ye
Net Worth: $10.3B
The co-founder of online gaming and e-commerce giant, Sea, Gang Ye is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the group. The group runs Shopee, the most popular e-commerce app in Southeast Asia as well as Garena, an online gaming platform that distributes popular games such as League of Legends in Southeast Asia.
The pandemic has given Sea the boost in revenue in both gaming and e-commerce areas. This has helped double the stock price of Sea in a year which has propelled its founders into greater wealth.
#6 Robert & Philip Ng
Net Worth: $14.2B
Sector: Real Estate
The Ng brothers, Robert and Philip Ng owns the largest private real estate group in both Hong Kong and Singapore. In Singapore, Philip Ng runs most of the local business, including Far East Organization, the largest private landlord and property developer. While in Hong Kong, the Ng family own Sino Group which is a major player in the Hong Kong property market which is overseen by older sibling Robert and his son Daryl.
Aside from real estate and hospitality, the family has also donated generously for the building of Jurong’s public hospital. The hospital – Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, was subsequently named after the late tycoon.
#5 Forrest Li
Net Worth: $15.9B
Sector: Technology/ Gaming
Founder of Singapore’s most valuable company, Sea, Forrest Li has become a mainstay in Singapore’s wealthiest list. The group was propelled by the pandemic demand for internet services, doubling its revenue and stock price in 2020.
The growth for Sea continues as the group is looking to expand into the e-payments and financial services space with their new Digital Banking License from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
#4 Zhang Yong & Shu Ping
Net Worth: $16B
Owners of the famous HaiDiLao Hotpot, Zhang Yong, and his wife, Shu Ping, are both naturalised Singapore citizens.
Originally from China, HaiDiLao Hotpot has over 935 outlets worldwide, including Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the US, South Korea, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. Their unique ethos in providing quality customer service such as free manicures and snacks coupled with their famous tomato broth has helped the brand maintain a group of avid and loyal customers. The company has also successfully branched out into shelf products, bringing their tomato broth into the homes of many.
With the impact of COVID-19, HaiDiLao has seen its market capitalisation dropped significantly. Regardless, the family is still well on top of Singapore’s wealthiest list.
#3 Goh Cheng Liang
Net Worth: $18.6B
From humble beginnings in making his own paint, Goh Cheng Liang, founder of Wuthelam Holdings, has since taken over control of Nippon Paint in August 2020. His son, Goh Hup Jin, chairman of Nippon Paint and managing director of Wuthelam Holdings help cement the Nippon deal which added $3.8 billion to the family’s net worth.
#2 Eduardo Saverin
Net Worth: $20.5B
The prolific co-founder of the world’s largest social media company – Facebook, Saverin derives most of his wealth from his small but valuable stake in Facebook.
Currently, Saverin is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of B Capital, which specialises in growth-stage startups investment. Their notable investment includes recent unicorns such as Carro and Ninja Van.
A Brazilian native, Saverin has been a Singapore resident since renouncing his U.S. citizenship in 2012 ahead of Facebook’s IPO.
#1 Li Xiting
Net Worth: $23B
Sector: Medical Devices
Rising the ranks and coming out top, Li Xiting is currently the richest in Singapore. Born in China, Li is now a naturalised Singapore citizen.
The founder and chairman of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, his wealth was propelled by the demand for medical devices such as ventilators during this pandemic. With his wealth increasing from US$3.5 billion to US$12.5 billion, the meteoric growth made him the top 5 global gainers from this pandemic boost.
The Richest In Singapore
Compared to previous years, the number of property tycoons is slowly getting replaced by tech entrepreneurs. Out of the top 10 richest in Singapore, half of the billionaires are also naturalised Singapore citizens.
As the pandemic continues, billionaire Li Xiting has risen to the top as a provider of the essential ventilator alongside the other Sea founders that have benefitted from the rise of internet service demand.
Regardless, banking, property and hospitality remain a mainstay among Singapore’s richest even as Sea joins the fintech field with their Digital Banking License. The digital financial landscape has also welcomed crypto billionaires onto Singapore Forbes’s list with Changpeng Zhao (commonly known as CZ), founder of Binance – the world’s largest crypto exchange platform.
This phenomenon of new wealth from the digital is not limited to finance, as we see technological founders such as Grab and Razer making it into the list. With the rise of more tech unicorns such as Carro, Nium and PatSnap, we may see more changes on the list of Singapore wealthiest over time.
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