Real estate moguls top Singapore’s billionaire list for 10th straight year

Image credit: Forbes

Real estate moguls Robert and Philip Ng are joint 112th on Forbes’ billionaire list. The duo came up tops among their countrymen for the 10th year running.

The real estate moguls had a combined fortune of US$12 billion (S$16.3 billion).

real estate moguls
Image credit: Forbes

Brothers Robert and Philip Ng control Far East Organization, Singapore’s largest private landlord and property developer. The brothers are staunch Christians and refer to Far East as a Christian enterprise.

The group was founded by their father Ng Teng Fong, who moved from China to Singapore in 1934 and came to be known as “The King of Orchard Road”. Their Hong Kong arm, Sino Group, is overseen by older sibling Robert and his son Daryl, while Philip oversees the Singapore interests.

Other Singaporeans in the Forbes’ billionaire list besides the real estate moguls include Goh Cheng Liang, Zhang Yong, Shu Ping and Wee Cho Yaw. Shu Ping is the wife of Zhang, and Zhang was listed at No 13 on China’s rich list last year.

The list which counted the real estate moguls as top billionaires here said for only the second year in a decade, both the number of billionaires and their total wealth shrank, proving that even the wealthiest are not immune to economic forces and weak stock markets.

“By our latest count there are 2,153 billionaires, 55 fewer than a year ago. Of those, a record 994, or 46%, are poorer (relatively speaking) than they were last year. In total, the ultra-rich are worth $8.7 trillion, down $400 billion from 2018. Altogether 11% of last year’s list members, or 247 people, dropped out of the ranks, the most since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.

Asia-Pacific was hardest hit, with 60 fewer 10-figure fortunes. That dip was led by China, which has 49 fewer billionaires than a year ago. Europe, the Middle East and Africa also lost ground. The Americas, driven by a resurgent Brazil, and the U.S. are the only two regions that have more billionaires than they did a year ago. There are now a record 607 in the U.S. That includes 14 of the world’s 20 richest. Jeff Bezos is again number 1 in the world, followed by Bill Gates at number 2.

Even with strong headwinds, resourceful and relentless entrepreneurs found new ways to get rich: 195 newcomers joined the ranks. The richest newcomer is Colin Huang, the founder of Chinese discount web retailer Pinduoduo, which went public in the U.S. in July. Other notable new entrants include Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon; Juul Labs’ James Monsees and Adam Bowen, Kind Bar’s Daniel Lubetzky and cosmetics wunderkind Kylie Jenner, who is the world’s youngest billionaire at age 21.”

The Forbes’ list which counted the real estate moguls as top billionaires in the country comes after another research said that there is a robust demand for luxury homes in Singapore fueled by high net worth individuals and affluent foreigners.

The research by Orange Tee & Tie released in November last year said Singapore remains a top investment destination, adding that the ongoing US-China trade war may have also spurred some Mainland Chinese to park their monies here to hedge against the devaluation of the Yuan.

This, the Orange Tee research said, drove up the robust demand for luxury homes. It suggested that Indonesians may have also transferred their funds to Singapore as a hedge against further depreciation of the rupiah.

The Orange Tee report said:

“The proportion of non-landed homes bought by Singaporeans rose from 75.4 per cent in Q3 2017 to 78.2 per cent in Q3 2018. Despite the hefty ABSD imposed on foreigners and PRs, foreigner purchases fell marginally by 0.5 percentage points q-o-q to 6.1 per cent in Q3 2018, and by 1.4 percentage points to 15.0 per cent for PRs over the same period.

Mainland Chinese remained as the top foreign buyer in Q3 2018, followed by Malaysians and Indonesians. A majority of 82.4 per cent of Malaysians, 71.2 per cent of Indians and 63.1 per cent of Mainland Chinese buyers bought homes that cost below S$1.5 million.

48.7 per cent of Indonesians, 42.1 per cent of Koreans, and 42.9 per cent of Taiwanese bought private homes above S$2 million. 15.4 per cent of buyers from Australia and The United Kingdom, 13.3 per cent of those from The USA and 11.5 per cent from Indonesia bought luxury homes at S$4 million and above.”

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Written by Ravi Chandran

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