It’s time to recognise the wealth of Southeast Asia. ASEAN is now the world’s fifth largest economy, trailing only China and Japan in Asia. As the economies have grown, so too has individual wealth and now the region boasts 102 billionaires, according to Forbes. The richest people in Southeast Asia come from different backgrounds and made their money in different ways, but all are key figures in their home countries.
Singapore has been passed by Thailand as the ASEAN country with the most billionaires. A total of 30 billionaires are now found in Thailand while only 22 call the city-state home. Indonesia continues to grow and now boasts 20 billionaires while the Philippines has 14. Forbes noted that ASEAN billionaires have a total value of USD 270 billion. Without further ado, here are the richest people in Southeast Asia.
Worth: USD 14.8 billion
Notable Holdings: Shangri-la Hotels
Similar wealth: Thai conglomerate boss Dhanin Chearavanont
The reclusive Robert Kuok counts Shangri-la Hotels as part of his holdings. His wealth came from Malayan Sugar Manufacturing, a company that had up to an 80 percent market share in the country during the later stages of the 20th century. Kuok’s group would merge with Wilmar International in 2007, which is run by his nephew.
Quek Leng Chan
Worth: USD 7.2 billion
Notable Holdings: Hong Leong Bank, Guoco Group
Similar wealth: NFL owner and truck bumper tycoon Shahid Khan
Quek Leng Chan is a qualified UK barrister, but his legal skills aren’t what he is known best for. He would take the reigns of Hong Leong Company, a massive conglomerate with financial, hospitality, real estate and media holdings. He recently retired as CEO of the company as part of a restructuring plan.
Worth: USD 17.9 billion (THB 558.6 billion)
Notable Holdings: Chang Beer, Big C, TCC Land
Similar wealth: Reclusive construction magnate Pallonji Mistr
Referred to locally as a beverage tycoon, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is the man who took Chang Beer global. Both internationally and domestically, Charoen’s ThaiBev manufactures and distributes all types of drinks including EST Cola, Coca-Cola and Pepsi’s local competitor. He is also behind developer TCC Land. The firm’s most notable project is the now under construction One Bangkok, the largest integrated district in Thai history.
Worth: USD 14.9 billion (THB 465 billion)
Notable Holdings: CP Group, True, 7-11 Thailand
Similar wealth: Rupert Murdoch
The entire Chearavanont Family is estimated to be worth USD 31.9 billion (THB 995.7 billion) but patriarch Dhanin remains the wealthiest. The CP Group got its start in 1921 selling seeds in Bangkok and grew over the years as an agribusiness. It would begin to expand internationally in the 1970s. In the last 40 years, the firm diversified its business to include telecom, retail and restaurant holdings.
Worth: USD 5 billion (THB 156.1 billion)
Notable Holdings: King Power, Leicester City FC
Similar wealth: Richard Branson
Unlike other Thai billionaires on this list, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha doesn’t have a sprawling conglomerate. His focus is on King Power, the well-known, duty-free retailer. Anyone who has stepped foot in a Thai airport will likely have come across the brand. Vichai has used his wealth to purchase former English Premier League champions Leicester City while his company is the second largest shareholder Thai AirAsia, the domestic offshoot of the low cost airline.
Robert and Philip Ng
Worth: USD 10.8 billion (SGD 14.2 billion)
Notable Holdings: Far East Organization
Similar wealth: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich
The Kings of Orchard Road have made their fortune as real estate developers. Their vision turned the sleepy Orchard Road into one of the world’s great districts. The pair oversees Far East Organization, Singapore’s largest private property developer. The company’s hospitality arm operates 14,000 rooms across 90 hotels and serviced residences in seven countries while retail assets include the popular Orchard Central mall.
Goh Cheng Liang
Worth: USD 7 billion (SGD 9.2 billion)
Notable Holdings: Nippon Paint (Southeast Asia)
Similar wealth: Hong Kong businesswoman Pollyanna Ch
Goh Cheng Liang made his fortune in paint. He founded Wuthelam Holdings which would form a joint venture with Japan’s Nippon Paint to produce and sell paint and coatings in several markets including China, India and Southeast Asia. Additionally, he is the largest shareholder in Nippon Paint.
Wee Cho Yaw
Worth: USD 6.6 billion (SGD 8.7 billion)
Notable Holdings: United Overseas Bank
Similar wealth: Apollo Global Management founder Leon Black
The man behind United Overseas Bank’s massive growth in the past 50 years is Wee Cho Yaw. He took the bank public in 1970 and also oversaw its expansion into several areas such as property, insurance, lease financing and merchant banking. UOB now has more than 500 offices and operates in 18 countries across the globe.
Worth: USD 17.4 billion (IDR 239.5 trillion)
Notable Holdings: Djarum, Bank Central Asia
Similar wealth: Legendary investor Carl Icahn
The father of R. Budi Hartono took a bankrupt cigarette company and started rebuilding it. Hartono, along with his brother, would build on those foundations to create a worldwide tobacco products producer. Eventually his company would take over a majority stake in Bank Central Asia and is now developing the Hotel Indonesia in Jakarta.
Worth: USD 16.7 billion (IDR 229.9 trillion)
Notable Holdings: Djarum, Bank Central Asia
Similar wealth: Hong Kong developer Joseph Lau
Michael Hartono is the aforementioned brother of R. Budi Hartono who helped build Djarum into a cigarette powerhouse. While not as wealthy as his sibling, Michael is right behind him.
Sri Prakash Lohia
Worth: USD 7.4 billion (IDR 101.8 trillion)
Notable Holdings: Indorama Corporation
Similar wealth: Singaporean paint powerhouse Goh Cheng Liang
Originally from India, Sri Prakash Lohia moved to Indonesia with his father after graduating from university. He would go on to found Indorama Corporation, a company best known for a component used to make plastic bottles. It also manufactures a number of other products such as polyethylene, polypropylene and medical gloves.
Dr. (HC) Ir. Ciputra
Worth: USD 1.4 billion (IDR 19.2 trillion)
Notable Holdings: Ciputra Development
Similar wealth: Software technology guru Eugene Kaspersky
The 12th richest Indonesian is Dr. (HC) Ir. Ciputra, founder and chairman of Ciputra Development, Indonesia’s premier real estate developer. He is best known for his commitment to entrepreneurship and was named as one of Dot Property’s Leaders of Real Estate in 2017.
Worth: USD 20 billion (PHP 1 trillion)
Notable Holdings: SM Prime, China Bank
Similar wealth: Elon Musk
From a shoe store in Manila to 70 malls and a portfolio of hotels and commercial buildings, Henry Sy has been a catalyst for development in the Philippines. SM Mall of Asia is just one of the many major projects developed under his watch. The founder of SM Prime also holds a significant stake in China Bank and Banco de Oro in the Philippines.
John Gokongwei Jr.
Worth: USD 5.8 billion (PHP 302 billion)
Notable Holdings: Robinsons Land, Cebu Pacific, Summit Media
Similar wealth: Vacuum legend James Dyson
JG Summit Holdings is one of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates. Its holdings stretch from land to air with a stake in property and aviation outfits. Founded by John Gokongwei Jr., the company continues to expand its horizons with his sons and daughters playing a leading role at many of JG Summit Holdings’ subsidiaries.
Enrique Razon Jr.
Worth: USD 4.9 billion (PHP 255 billion)
Notable Holdings: International Container Terminal Services, Solaire Casino and Resort
Similar wealth: Uber co-founder Garrett Camp
Enrique Razon Jr. made his fortune through port-handling firm International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) but his Solaire Casino and Resort is probably more famous. ICTSI operates 29 ports worldwide with Brazil, Mexico, Poland and Indonesia among the firm’s locations. His Bloomberry Investments Holdings operate the Solaire and the Jeju Hotel and Casino in South Korea.
Pham Nhat Vuong
Worth: USD 4.3 billion
Notable Holdings: VinGroup
Similar wealth: Finland’s richest person Antti Herlin
Pham Nhat Vuong was Vietnam’s first billionaire having taken the millions he made from an instant noodle business in Ukraine and founding VinGroup. This move would turn the millionaire into a billionaire. The real estate developer is active across all property segments.
Thi Phuong Thao Nguyen
Worth: USD 3.1 billion
Notable Holdings: VietJet Air
Similar wealth: US president Donald Trump
Thi Phuong Thao Nguyen was the only female billionaire in Southeast Asia as of 2017 and is one of 56 to make the Forbes’ billionaire list. Her holding company, Sovico, owns low cost airline VietJet Air as well as several resorts in Vietnam and Phu Long Real Estate Company.