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#357 Chung Mong-Koo $5.00B

Random fact: Built Hyundai Motor Group into South Korea’s second-biggest chaebol.

Overview

Chung is the chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea's biggest automaker. The Seoul-based conglomerate is the world's fifth-largest automaker by sales and its flagship company sold almost five million vehicles in 2016. The billionaire took over the family business from his father Chung Yu Yung in 1998.

As of July 24, 2017:
Last change -$37.5M (-0.7%)
YTD change +$363M (+7.8%)
Industry Industrial
Biggest asset 012330 KS Equity
Citizenship Korea, Republic of
Age 79
Wealth Inherited
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Chung Mong-Koo's net worth of $5.00B can buy ...

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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
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Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Chung's wealth is derived from his stakes in four publicly traded Hyundai companies. He owns a 5.2 percent stake in automaker Hyundai Motor; 7 percent of Hyundai Mobis, the auto parts maker for Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors; and 12 percent in Hyundai Steel, South Korea's second-biggest steelmaker by sales, which acquired the steel sheet and pipe maker Hyundai Hysco in July 2015. He also owns a 6.7 percent stake in Hyundai Glovis, the logistics unit that ships Hyundai cars. All of the affiliated companies hold stakes in each other, ensuring the Chung family's control.

The Hyuandai Motor group is the world's fifth-biggest automaker and its flagship company sold almost 5 million cars in 2016, according to its website.

The value of his cash investments is based on an analysis of his dividends, insider transactions, taxes and market performance since 1999, the year after he took control of the family business from his father.

Chung's holdings were compiled through filings with the South Korean government's Financial Supervisory Service and from company websites. A spokesperson for Hyundai Motor Group declined to comment on his net worth or confirm his holdings.

Biography

Birthdate: 3/19/1938
Family: Widowed, 4 children
Education: 1967, Hanyang University, Bachelor's Degree

Chung was born in 1938, one of eight sons of Chung Ju Yung, a Seoul rice store owner in Japanese-occupied Korea. His father's store failed after Japan imposed rice rationing ahead of World War II. The elder Chung later formed a successful auto repair business, which the Japanese forced him to merge with a steel plant.

After the war, his father started Hyundai to take advantage of the reconstruction of Korea. He won several government contracts to build bridges, dams, expressways and shipyards. During the Korean War, the Chung family fled south to Busan. Hyundai benefited from a second round of reconstruction after a truce was declared between the United Nations and China and North Korea. The industrialization of South Korea during the next three decades -- encouraged by government policies offering cheap financing and favorable tax policies -- enabled the Chung family to diversify into car and shipbuilding, steelmaking and construction.

Chung Mong-Koo took over Hyundai Motor with his father's blessing in 1998, a year after the Asian financial crisis. Hyundai was then known for cheap econoboxes that sold for less than $5,000. Chung bought Kia from creditors during a bankruptcy auction in 1998, and insisted his cars would match the quality of Toyota. He backed that claim with a 10-year engine warranty.

In 2005, as Korea’s won strengthened against the U.S. dollar, Chung ordered cost cutting to ensure the automaker would earn money even if the won surged. The company opened its first U.S. plant that year. Chung began involving himself in all key decisions at Hyundai. Today, he presides over weekly quality control meetings with auto engineers and test drives all prototypes, and is known to nix vehicle designs and advertising campaigns at the last minute.

In addition to an improvement in the quality of Hyundai cars, a stronger Japanese yen and weaker Korean won versus the dollar has helped Hyundai and Kia better compete against Japanese automakers Toyota, Nissan and Honda in the U.S. Vehicle sales at Hyundai and Kia rose 56 percent from the end of 2008 to 2011, faster than any other major automaker.

Chung was convicted in 2007 of embezzling $110.5 million from Hyundai Motor, Kia and other affiliates, and using more than two thirds of the money as a political slush fund. He was also found guilty of selling securities in Hyundai Motor affiliates to his son at below-market prices. His son, Chung Eui Sun, wasn’t indicted. Chung received a suspended three-year prison sentence and was pardoned in August 2008 by President Lee Myung Bak.

Milestones
  • 1938 Born to a Seoul rice store owner in Japanese-occupied Korea.
  • 1950 Chung family flees south to Busan as Korean War begins.
  • 1957 Industrialization of South Korea begins.
  • 1960 Hyundai expands into carmaking and shipbuilding.
  • 1998 Chung Mong Koo named by father to lead Hyundai Motor.
  • 1998 Purchases Kia Motors in a bankruptcy auction.
  • 2005 Hyundai Motor opens first U.S. assembly plant.
  • 2007 Convicted of embezzling $110.5 million into a political slush fund.
  • 2008 Pardoned by South Korean President Lee Myung Bak.
  • 2015 Sells 13 percent stake in Hyundai Glovis together with son Eui-Sun.