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From left: Grab co-founder Anthony Tan, crypto billionaire Changpeng Zhao and former Nanyang Technological University professor Shi Xu. — TODAY/Reuters/Nanofilm Technologies pic
From left: Grab co-founder Anthony Tan, crypto billionaire Changpeng Zhao and former Nanyang Technological University professor Shi Xu. — TODAY/Reuters/Nanofilm Technologies pic

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SINGAPORE, Aug 12 — The combined net worth of Singapore’s 50 richest people rose by 25 per cent over the past year to US$208 billion (S$282 billion) from US$167 billion last year, Forbes said in its annual list of the world’s wealthiest tycoons.

Singapore’s 50 richest people include entrepreneurs from industries as varied as property development, technology and hotpot restaurants.

This year, the list also includes three new faces — Grab co-founder Anthony Tan, crypto billionaire Changpeng Zhao and nanotechnology entrepreneur Shi Xu.

The annual list, published in this month’s issue of Forbes Asia, is compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and other sources.

It also takes into account family fortunes, including fortunes shared among extended families.

Net worths are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of July 26, while private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded.

The list also includes foreign citizens with business, residential or other ties to Singapore, or citizens who do not reside in Singapore but have significant business here or other ties to the Republic.

Three newcomers in top 50

Tan, the Malaysia-born co-founder of Grab, debuted in Singapore’s rich list at number 47 with a net worth of US$790 million.

The Singapore citizen was previously ranked among Malaysia’s richest in 2019, after having set up the ride-hailing firm there in 2012.

Now, Tan, 39, is on the verge of concluding a merger between Grab and United States blank cheque company Altimeter Growth Corp by the end of this year.

It is expected to be one of the biggest deals with a special purpose acquisition company that will value Grab at US$40 billion.

Grab’s value was estimated to be around US$14 billion in 2019.

Another newcomer to the Singapore rich list was Chinese Canadian Changpeng Zhao, the founder and chief executive officer of Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

The 45-year-old, who has been based in Singapore since 2019, entered the list at number 22 with a net worth of US$1.9 billion.

Last year, Binance reached US$2 trillion in total trading volume and its Binance Coin is considered the third biggest cryptocurrency on the market.

The third newcomer to make the list at number 24, with a net worth of US$1.8 billion, is former Nanyang Technological University (NTU) professor Shi Xu.

Dr Shi, 57, became a billionaire after listing his firm NanoFilm Technologies International, which provides nanotechnological solutions for smartphones and electronics.

The initial public offering last October raised more than S$470 million, boosting the company’s market value to S$1.9 billion.

He had initially founded NanoFilm in 1999 as a tech start-up after NTU decided to commercialise his technology.

Rise in net worth of S’pore tycoons

With Singapore’s economy rebounding, 36 tycoons on the latest Forbes list saw their fortunes rise, with 42 of them boasting a net worth of at least US$1 billion.

The minimum net worth to make the list this year was US$735 million, up from US$610 million last year.

The richest man on the list was Li Xiting, 70, who took the top spot for the first time with a net worth of US$23 billion.

Li is the founder of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, which makes high-tech medical devices.

His company shares rose 19 per cent last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, pushing his net worth up by US$5.2 billion.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, 39, added US$6.5 billion to his wealth to reclaim the second spot on the list after a two-year gap. He has a net worth of US$20.5 billion.

In third place was paints tycoon Goh Cheng Liang, 94, who partnered with Japan’s Nippon Paint in the 1960s to expand its presence in Southeast Asia.

His oldest son Goh Hup Jin orchestrated a US$12 billion deal earlier this year that increased the family’s holding to a majority stake in Nippon Paint. It raised the senior Goh’s net worth by US$3.8 billion to US$18.6 billion.

Sea founders more than doubled their wealth

A fifth of the top 50 list consisted of self-made tycoons, Forbes said.

Among them are three men who more than doubled their individual wealth in the past year — the three co-founders of gaming and e-commerce firm Sea.

They are Forrest Li, 43, who is fifth on the list with a net worth of US$15.9 billion, Gang Ye, 41, who is seventh on the list with a net worth of US$10.3 billion and David Chen, 40, who is thirteenth on the list with a net worth of US$3.1 billion.

Collectively, their wealth stands at US$29.3 billion, up from US$12.6 billion last year.

Three people dropped off the list this year, including pioneering shipping tycoon Chang Yun Chung, who died last September at age 102.

His privately held Pacific International Lines, which was impacted by Covid-19 headwinds, concluded a debt restructuring plan in March that diluted the family’s holding to a minority stake. — TODAY

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