Meet 10 Self-Made Billionaires Who Are On Forbes Singapore's Richest List 2019
We're familiar with Singapore's richest families, who have accumulated their wealth over generations. But every legacy has its beginning, and it all starts with an individual with strong business acumen—a self-starter who is not afraid to take the plunge.
Meet 10 of Singapore's self-made billionaires on Forbes' Singapore's 50 Richest List—some of whom have amassed their own fortune over the years, and others who are entrepreneurs who have shot up in net worth in recent years.
1/10 Zhang Yong
NET WORTH: US$15.9B
China’s richest restaurateur and now naturalised Singapore citizen, Zhang Yong, is the founder of popular Sichuan hot pot chain Haidilao. The self-made billionaire opened his first restaurant back in 1994, in his hometown of Jianyang in Sichuan Province. Today, Haidilao has more than 300 outlets in China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
The restaurant is known for its impeccable service, offering customers manicures and shoulder massages in the waiting line—a meticulous touch, especially when the long queues can take up to three hours. The restaurant chain went public in September last year.
2/10 Eduardo Saverin
NET WORTH: US $10.6B
The co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin derives most of his wealth from his two per cent stake in the social media platform, which he left in 2005. Now a venture capitalist, he launched venture fund B Capital, with BCG and Bain Capital veteran Raj Ganguly in 2016.
Since its launch, the fund has raised $766 million, investing in late-stage tech firms in Asia, Europe and the United States—including regional logistics startup Ninja Van. The Brazilian native made his move to Singapore in 2009, renouncing his U.S. citizenship in 2012.
3/10 Goh Cheng Liang
NET WORTH: US$10B
92-year-old Goh Cheng Liang is the founder of Nippon Paint South-East Asia Group, a joint venture between his investment company, Wuthelam Holdings, and Japan’s Nippon Paint Holdings—which he holds a 39 per cent stake in. He set up his first paint business in 1955, before becoming the local distributor for Nippon Paint in 1962.
The entrepreneur is also a dedicated philanthropist, supporting education, medical research and community development initiatives through the Goh Foundation, which has benefited the National Cancer Centre Singapore and several scholarships in local universities.
4/10 Choo Chong Ngen
Net worth: US$2.9B
Choo Chong Ngen is the founder and chairman of Worldwide Hotels, a newly-established holding company comprising six brands with a total of 38 hotels globally. This includes the Hotel 81 chain, which the billionaire started in 1995 after making his fortune in textiles and property investment.
The hotelier has donated more than $10m to various local educational institutions and established a bursary for financially strapped students under his Hotel 81-Choo Chong Ngen Foundation.
(Related: Hotel 81 Founder Choo Chong Ngen And His CEO Daughter Carolyn Have Lofty Ambitions Of Going Global With Their Company)
5/10 Arvind Tiku
Net worth: US$2.2B
Indian-born Singapore resident Arvind Tiku is the founder of AT Capital Group, which has approximately US$2.5b worth of global investments in oil and gas, real estate, and renewable energy. It owns Orange Renewables, whose solar and wind portfolio was acquired by Greenko, a company backed by GIC and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, for an estimated US$1b.
The billionaire also owns a stake in London-listed Nostrum Oil & Gas, with co-investors Lakshmi Mittal, chairman and CEO of ArcelorMittal; and Timur Kulibaev, son-in-law of Kazakhstan's president.
6/10 Peter Lim
Net worth: US$2B
Best known for owning Spanish football club Valencia CF, Peter Lim is working with Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs to redevelop Manchester’s historic Northern Stock Exchange building into a boutique hotel.
The tycoon also holds a 90.07 per cent stake of Thomson Medical Group (formerly Rowsley) which owns Thomson Medical, TMC Life Sciences, and Vantage Bay Healthcare City.
7/10 Sam Goi
Net worth: US$2B
Executive chairman of GSH Corporation and Teh Yih Jia—the world’s largest popiah skin manufacturer—Sam Goi is affectionately known as Singapore’s “Popiah King”.
Goi has real estate interests through his stakes in GSH Corporation, selling a 28-storey office tower in Singapore for $512 million in 2017. In the pipeline is Coral Bay, a luxury residential development in Sabah that is slated for completion in 2022. He has also been Singapore’s non-resident ambassador to Brazil since 2018.
(Related: 22 Singaporeans Made It To Forbes' 2019 Billionaires List)
8/10 Lim Oon Kuin
Net worth: US$1.7B
75-year-old Lim Oon Kuin is the founder and chairman of Hin Leong Trading, one of Singapore’s largest independent oil traders. From humble beginnings of supplying diesel to fishing vessels in 1963, he has since built a global presence for the company. Hin Leong Trading is reportedly exploring opportunities to retail oil with a local partner in Myanmar.
He also founded a subsidiary company, Ocean Tankers, which owns a fleet of more than 130 tankers and is run by his son, Evan Lim.
9/10 Forrest Li
Net worth: US$1.4B
Singapore's only online gaming billionaire to make the list, 41-year-old Forrest Li is the founder of online gaming firm Sea, which also owns digital entertainment platform Garena and online shopping app Shopee. He entered the ranks of Singapore’s richest after listing Sea—of which he owns a 13.8 per cent stake—on the New York Stock Exchange on October 2017.
Sea’s investors include Chinese investment firm Tencent, private equity firm General Atlantic and Robert Kuok's son Kuok Khoon Hua.
10/10 Chang Yun Chung
Net worth: US$1.7B
At 101 years old, Chang Yun Chung is the world’s oldest billionaire. The centenarian co-founded Pacific International Lines in 1967, as a coastal operator with two second-hand ships. Today, it is the biggest Singapore-owned shipping line, with a fleet of more than 150 vessels.
Now chairman emeritus of the company, he handed over the family-owned business to his son Teo Siong Seng in April 2018, but reportedly still enjoys going to the office every day.