Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#192 Wee Cho Yaw $8.06B

Random fact: Owns shares in developer UOL Group and Tiger Balm maker Haw Par.

Overview

Wee Cho Yaw is the largest shareholder and chairman emeritus of United Overseas Bank, Singapore's third-biggest lender by assets. The company has more than 500 branches and offices in 19 countries and territories. It held customer deposits of S$255 billion ($176 billion) and had assets of S$340 billion as of Dec. 31, 2016.

As of Oct. 17, 2017:
Last change -$38.5M (-0.5%)
YTD change +$2.06B (+34.3%)
Industry Finance
Biggest asset UOB SP Equity
Citizenship Singapore
Age 85
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Wee Cho Yaw's net worth of $8.06B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
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barrels of crude oil

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Wee's fortune is derived from his stake in publicly traded United Overseas Bank, Singapore's third-biggest lender by assets. He owns about 18 percent of the business directly and through Singapore-based holding companies Wee Investments and CY Wee & Co, according to an April 2017 filing with the Singapore stock exchange.

He also holds stakes in property investor UOL Group, Tiger Balm maker Haw Par, developer United Industrial and United Overseas Insurance.

His closely held Kheng Leong Co. owns various real estate investments and property developments in Singapore, throughout Asia and in London, Sydney and Los Angeles. The business was started in 1949 as an international commodity and spice trading company. It's valued based on the average price-to-book value multiple of five publicly traded peer companies: City Developments, Bukit Sembawang Estates, Wheelock Properties Singapore, Wing Tai Holdings and Ho Bee Land. Kheng Leong reported revenue of about S$5 million in 2015, according to a filing with Singapore's Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

Jean Khong, a spokeswoman for UOB in Singapore, did not reply to a May 2017 email seeking comment on Wee's net worth.

Biography

Birthdate: 1/10/1929
Family: Married, 5 children
Education:

Wee Cho Yaw was born in Quemoy, China, to Kuching-born Wee Kheng Chiang. His father founded the United Chinese Bank with six partners when Wee was seven. They initially targeted the Fujian community. Wee Cho Yaw moved with his family to Sarawak, in northeast Borneo, where he worked in the family's pepper and rubber company.

When Wee was 31, he took over his father's bank and expanded it -- enduring Singapore's separation from Malaysia in 1965, five recessions and a government-backed industry shakeout.

The billionaire charted acquisitions in Indonesia and Thailand and took over other Singapore banks in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2001, he defeated DBS, the region’s biggest bank by assets, in the S$10 billion takeover of Overseas Union Bank as the controlling family blocked a hostile bid by DBS and opted for the sale to Wee.

He stepped down as chairman of the bank in April 2013. He had anointed his son Wee Ee Cheong as chief executive officer in 2007. Hsieh Fu Hua, a former president at Temasek Holdings, succeeded the elder Wee as chairman.

Milestones
  • 1929 Wee Cho Yaw born in Quemoy, an archipelago off China's coast.
  • 1965 Names bank UOB, opens first overseas branch in Hong Kong.
  • 1970 Lists UOB on the joint stock exchange of Singapore and Malaysia.
  • 2002 Lender is first in Singapore licensed to do business in yuan.
  • 2005 UOB establishes Thai group, raises Indonesian bank stake.
  • 2005 Sells 66 branches in Philippines to Manila's Banco de Oro.
  • 2007 Passes on chief executive officer role to son Wee Ee Cheong.
  • 2009 Starts Wee Foundation with S$30 million.
  • 2013 Steps down as UOB chairman in April 2013.
  • 2015 Opens first branch in Myanmar.