Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#59 Robert Kuok $16.2B

Random fact: Brother was killed in 1953 in communist revolt against colonial rule.

Overview

Kuok controls businesses across Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong including Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader. Singapore-based Wilmar reported revenue of $41.4 billion in 2016. His other holdings include stakes in real estate developer Kerry Properties and luxury hotel operator Shangri-La Asia.

As of July 26, 2017:
Last change +$39.3M (+0.2%)
YTD change +$3.13B (+24.0%)
Industry Diversified
Biggest asset 683 HK Equity
Citizenship Malaysia
Age 93
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Robert Kuok's net worth of $16.2B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

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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 Kuok's fortune is derived from assets he owns with his family through three closely held vehicles: Kuok (Singapore), Kuok Brothers in Malaysia and Kerry Holdings in Hong Kong. Kuok is credited with 100 percent of the shares in these holding companies, including those held by his relatives, to reflect his status as family patriarch.

His most valuable assets are stakes in Kerry Properties, a real estate company and Shangri-La Asia, a hotel operator. He indirectly owns a 59 percent stake in Kerry Properties through the Kerry Group, according to a May 2017 filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. He holds his 49 percent stake in Shangri-La Asia through the Kerry Group, according to the company's 2016 annual report.

His other publicly traded assets include Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader, according to its website. He also has stakes in Malaysia-based conglomerate PPB Group, Hong Kong-based logistics services provider Kerry Logistics and Sydney-based coal producer Whitehaven Coal.

The billionaire also owns Singapore-based property developer Allgreen Properties, which is valued using the average price-to-book value and price-to-earnings multiples of three publicly traded peers: Bukit Sembawang Estates, City Developments and UOL Group. Kuok (Singapore), a sea freight provider, is valued based on the average price-to-book ratios of five publicly traded peers: Olam International, Wilmar, Pacc Offshore Services, Pacific Basin Shipping and Misc.

The value of Kuok's cash investments is based on an analysis of dividends, insider transactions, taxes and market performance.

Kuok declined to comment on the calculation of his net worth in an e-mail.

Biography

Birthdate: 10/6/1923
Family: Married, 8 children
Education: Raffles College, Bachelor's Degree

Kuok was born in 1923, in the southernmost Malaysian state of Johor, the youngest of three brothers. His father, an immigrant from China's Fujian province, was a trader of agricultural commodities. In 1941, Kuok was a student at Raffles College in Singapore when the Japanese bombed the island and declared war. He returned to Johor and worked in the local office of Japanese trading company Mitsubishi Corp., heading the rice department.

After his father died in 1948, he established Kuok Brothers with other family members. The company traded rice, sugar and wheat flour. He set up Malaysian Sugar Manufacturing in 1959, which became the Southeast Asian nation's biggest refiner, controlling 60 percent of the domestic sugar supply. By the 1970s, he was known as the "Sugar King" after amassing control of 5 percent of the world market. In 1963, Kuok profited from bets in the physical sugar and futures markets when a hurricane damaged Cuba's sugarcane plantations and mills. The billionaire exited Malaysia's sugar industry in 2009. Kuala Lumpur-based PPB Group, which he and his family control, sold its sugar investments for $380 million in 2009 to Felda Global Ventures.

In 1971, Kuok built his first Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, and followed with the Kowloon Shangri-La in Hong Kong six years later. Hong Kong-listed Shangri-La Asia, the region's biggest luxury hotel group, managed 98 hotels -- half in China -- as of July 2016.

Kuok moved his headquarters to Hong Kong from Singapore and Malaysia in 1974, and set up Kerry Holdings. Kuok and his family own many of his assets in Hong Kong and China, including developer Kerry Properties, through the holding company.

During China's crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square, the billionaire continued to build the China World Trade Center, a partnership with the government in Beijing. Kuok's Kerry Group started a bottling venture with Coca-Cola in 1993. The world's biggest soft-drink maker gradually bought out Kerry's stake in the venture starting in 2006.

In 2007, Kuok merged his plantations, edible oil and grains businesses with Singapore-based Wilmar International, transforming it into the world's biggest palm-oil processor. The company is run by his nephew Kuok Khoon Hong.

The billionaire, who has been married twice and has eight children, lives in Deep Water Bay on Hong Kong island. Some of his children run the companies he controls, including Kuok Hui Kwong, chairman of Shangri-La Asia, and Kuok Khoon Ean, chairman of Kuok Singapore.

Milestones
  • 1923 Born in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
  • 1949 Sets up Kuok Brothers trading commodities.
  • 1953 Expands into Singapore with Kuok (Singapore).
  • 1971 Builds his first Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.
  • 1974 Sets up Kerry Holdings in Hong Kong.
  • 1977 Buys land in Hong Kong and builds Kowloon Shangri-La.
  • 1993 Buys controlling stake in South China Morning Post.
  • 1996 Kerry Properties sells shares in Hong Kong.
  • 2009 Exits Malaysian sugar industry by selling investments.
  • 2014 PACC Offshore Services starts trading in Singapore.
  • 2017 Daughter Kuok Hui Kwong takes over as chairman of Shangri-La Asia