The Forbes’ 2023 Billionaires List ranked over 2,500 billionaires from all around the world, including 18 billionaires from Malaysia. Here is the list of the 18 richest entrepreneurs from Malaysia that were featured in the Forbes 2023 Billionaires list.
Forbes’ Billionaires List Malaysia 2023
1. Robert Kuok
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Robert Kuok, who has been the wealthiest person in Malaysia for the past few decades, founded and is in charge of the Kuok Group, which has operations throughout the area in industries like hotel, agricultural, real estate, freight and logistics.
Although Wilmar International, the largest publicly traded palm oil refiner in the world, is Kuok’s primary source of wealth, Shangri-La Hotels may be the Kuok Group’s most well-known asset. He is ranked as the 1st richest business entrepreneur in the Forbes’ Billionaires List 2023.
2. Quek Leng Chan
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The executive chairman of the privately held Hong Leong Group, which has global presence and holdings in manufacturing, real estate, banking, and other financial services, is Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan. With a net worth of more than $9 billion, he ranks second among Malaysian billionaires.
Quek, a former Middle Temple, London, barrister-at-law, is a member of the second generation of a business family that founded the Hong Leong Company in Singapore in the 1940s. The business began as a general trading concern before expanding into real estate, hotel construction, and financial services.
The charitable arm of the company, the Hong Leong Foundation, which promotes community and educational advancement, is also led by Quek.
3. Ananda Krishnan
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Ananda, often known as AK informally, is a well-known leader with outstanding economic acumen. He acquired his money as the CEO of Usaha Tegas, a company having interests in media, telecom, and oil services. His most well-known commercial ventures include the cable operator MEASAT, the broadband service Maxis, and the television network Astro.
Ananda is a significant donor who frequently supports charities that support the humanities, the arts, sports, and education. The remarkably low-key AK strongly believes in promoting education. Based on Forbes’ 2023 Billionaires List, he is the third world’s richest business entrepreneur.
It is well known that Usaha Tegas and its affiliates provide a sizeable money to the charity foundation YCF in order to award scholarships to deserving students. Ananda is an accomplished student who earned an honours degree in political science. Later, he graduated from Harvard Business School with a master’s degree in business administration.
4. Koon Poh Keong
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Koon Poh Keong established Press Metal Aluminium Holdings, Southeast Asia’s largest integrated producer of aluminium. Press Metal, one of the biggest businesses in Malaysia, is owned by Tan Sri Koon Poh Keong.
Koon and his brothers founded Press Metal, which initially served as an aluminium-extrusion business before moving into upstream aluminium production.
Presently, it supplies major global players in the automotive, aerospace, and food and beverage industries.One of the business’s major successes was its foray into China, where it set up an aluminium-extrusion factory with three times the capacity of its Malaysian operations. This move paid off during the boom in that nation’s economy.
The company’s first aluminium smelting facility then appeared, first in China, then in Sarawak, Malaysia. Koon has been able to keep Press Metal competitive by implementing Chinese technology in the smelting plants and securing a long-term contract for inexpensive hydropower in Sarawak.
Koon has also been able to maintain one of the lowest running expenses in the area. Koon anticipates significant room for expansion given that his company now only supplies 1% of the world’s aluminium needs. He is ranked as the 4th richest business entrepreneur in the Forbes’ Billionaires List 2023.
5. Chen Lip Keong
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The first and only integrated resort in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, NagaWorld is owned by Malaysian billionaire Tan Sri Chen Lip Keong. It has boosted the GDP of the nation by bringing in foreign direct investments as well as tourism. Based on Forbes’ 2023 Billionaires List, he is the fifth world’s richest business entrepreneur.
Chen, a native of Kinta Valley, completed his medical education at Universiti Malaya and his mandatory military service at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital before pursuing a career in business. His initial position was in real estate development.
He later entered Cambodia with the intention of exploring for oil, but instead, in 1994, his Malaysian company secured a deal for international infrastructure, tourism, and a casino license, along with a term of 70 years and a monopoly of 51 years in Phnom Penh.
Chen started Naga’s business operations in 1994 on a rented boat on the Bassac River, despite the fact that it wasn’t a venture he had personally imagined. The parent company of the resort complex, NagaCorp, was the first foreign-owned business with operations in Cambodia to ever list overseas in 2006.
It was also the first integrated resort corporation to be listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Through the years, Chen’s commercial endeavours improved Cambodia’s economic standing.
6. Lee Yeow Chor
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The palm oil and real estate tycoon IOI Corporation, one of Malaysia’s largest corporations, is descended from Lee Yeow Chor. Based on Forbes’ 2023 Billionaires List, he is the sixth world’s richest business entrepreneur.
One of the biggest integrated palm oil plantation groups in Malaysia, IOI Corporation, is led by Dato’ Lee Yeow Chor as group managing director and chief executive. He is the oldest child of the late Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, who founded the IOI Group, which also comprises IOI Properties, one of the biggest real estate organisations.
Lee, a graduate of King’s College in London, spent over four years in the Malaysian judiciary service, most recently as a magistrate, before joining IOI Group as general manager.He took leadership of the group’s plantation company, IOI Corporation, after his father passed away in 2019.
As a result of guiding IOI Corporation’s corporate operations into the new digital age, Lee was awarded by research firm International Data Corporation in 2020 as Malaysia’s Digital Transformation (DX) CEO of the Year.
In the same year, he became the new chairman of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association. Lee serves as a trustee for Yayasan Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, the charitable arm of the IOI Group.
7. Lim Kok Thay
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Tan Sri Lim is the chairman of the Genting Group, a worldwide company with its headquarters in Malaysia. He is a pillar of a family legacy. Based on Forbes’ 2023 Billionaires List, he is the seventh world’s richest business entrepreneur.
The brand’s resort projects are spreading into the US, UK, the Bahamas, as well as the Philippines, despite a family battle over ownership of the company.
8. Kie Chie Wong
The majority of Malaysian investor Kie Chie Wong’s income comes from a minority investment in Fortescue Metals Group; he has lived in Australia since the 1980s. Wong, a longstanding supporter of tycoon Andrew Forrest, once owned a 26.5% share in Fortescue, which he acquired in 2003 for roughly $1 million.
Wong was a member of the Malaysian group that in 1988 purchased an Australian real estate agent.
He reportedly comes from a Malaysian family of Sarawak timber workers. Wong and his wife, Ann Pin Lim, also own a farm in South of Sydney.
9. Lau Cho Kun
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The largest shareholder in Hap Seng Consolidated is Lau Cho Kun, who holds shares through the holding firm Gek Poh and the investment arm Lei Shing Hong. The interests of the multifaceted company span financial services, plantations, and real estate.
One of Sabah, East Malaysia’s main producers of palm oil, is its plantation sector. Since 1969, Hap Seng Consolidated has run Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Malaysia. Lei Shing Hong, a privately held company established in Hong Kong, manages Mercedes-Benz dealerships across Asia and Europe.
10. Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary
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Low-profile Syed Mokhtar AlBukhary started as a rice trader after dropping out of high school. The majority of his wealth comes from holding shares of MMC Corp. and DRB-HICOM. Ports, logistics, construction, and engineering are all part of MMC’s business, whereas DRB-HICOM is an automobile company with holdings in real estate and education.
In 2017, DRB-HICOM sold a 49.9% share in Malaysian automaker Proton to Zhejiang Geely, a Chinese automaker.
He delisted MMC Corp. in 2021. At the time, the company was struggling with a number of issues, such as declining shipment volumes, rising operating costs, and a decline in engineering contracts.
11. Lee Yeow Seng
Image via IOI Group
Lee Yeow Seng received shares in the IOI group, his father Lee Sin Cheng’s palm oil and real estate conglomerate. The IOI group is led by Lee and his older brother Lee Yeow Chor.
Lee Yeow Seng studied law at Kings College in London, just like his brother. He serves as IOI Properties’ executive vice-chairman. At IOI Corporation, his brother Lee Yeow Chor serves as group managing director and chief executive.
12. G. Gnanalingam
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Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam, a pioneer in the logistics sector, is in charge of making Westports Malaysia one of the greatest ports in the world and a leader in the international cargo sector.
He founded Kelang Multi Terminal Sdn Bhd (now Westports) in 1994 and started container operations with just nine cranes in 1996, attributing the company’s success to its systems and technology. He swiftly amassed the majority of the box traffic in Port Klang by providing lower prices and quicker turnaround.
As a result, Klang has risen quickly, and in terms of container traffic among all ports worldwide, Westports is currently ranked 12th (global leaders include Shanghai, Singapore, Busan, Jebel Ali, and Rotterdam).
13. Lillyn Teh Li Hua
Lillyn Teh Li Hua is the daughter of the late banker Teh Hong Piow, who governed over the mammoth Public Bank in Malaysia for many years. The bank was started in 1966 by Teh Hong Piow. Age 92 saw his passing in December 2022.
The bank serves millions of customers in Malaysia as well as Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
Teh owned a sizeable minority share in both the bank and the listed insurance company, LPI Capital.
14. Lillian Teh Li Ming
The late financier Teh Hong Piow’s daughter, Lillian Teh Li Ming, served as chairman of Malaysia’s Public Bank for many years. The bank was started in 1966 by Teh Hong Piow. Age 92 saw his passing in December 2022. The bank serves millions of customers in Malaysia as well as Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
Teh owned a sizeable minority share in both the bank and the listed insurance company, LPI Capital.
15. William Teh Lee Pang
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The late banker Teh Hong Piow, who founded and served as chairman of Malaysia’s Public Bank for many years, has a son named William Teh Lee Pang. The bank was started in 1966 by Teh Hong Piow. Age 92 saw his passing in December 2022.
The bank provides services to millions of consumers not only in Malaysia but also in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. The late Teh held a sizeable minority ownership in both LPI Capital, a listed insurance company, and the bank.
16. Diana Teh Li Shing
Diana Teh Li Shing is the deceased banker Teh Hong Piow’s daughter. Teh Hong Piow presided over Malaysia’s Public Bank for many years. In 1966, her father established the bank. Teh passed away in 2022 at the age of 92. Her father owned a sizable minority stake in the insurance company LPI Capital as well as Public Bank.
17. Jeffrey Cheah
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The executive chairman of Malaysian conglomerate Sunway is Jeffrey Cheah. Over the course of five decades, he changed his small tin mining business into a conglomerate with holdings in infrastructure, hotels, healthcare, and education.
His sons Adrian and Evan, as well as daughter Sarena, all work for the family business. The healthcare division of Sunway has two hospitals in Kuala Lumpur and plans to build five more across the nation. Sunway grew its fintech business in 2020 by purchasing a 51% stake in the credit bureau Credit Bureau Malaysia.
18. Tan Yu Yeh
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Ten Yu Yeh, the ambitious businessman behind one of Malaysia’s homegrown retailers with one of the fastest growing national footprints, has increased the number of Mr. D.I.Y. stores he operates nationwide.
Mr. DIY’s founder Tan Yu Yeh first established the hardware store in 2005. He eventually expanded it into shopping centers, transforming it into a one-stop home renovation retail chain with goods in ten categories. Electrical items, automotive accessories, mobile and computer accessories, office supplies, and toys are also among them.
Tan, who co-owns the business with his brother, is believed to have invested in a point-of-sale (POS) system to help with the quick expansion of the company throughout Malaysia in just a few years.
With more than 700 locations and growing, Mr. D.I.Y. is now the leading retailer of home improvement products in the area, providing services to 80 million consumers each year. Mr. DIY also made a foray into the digital world in 2017 by establishing an online store.
Do you know about the four successful ladies who appeared on the Forbes Asia 50 Over 50 list for 2023? To find out who they are, read A Remarkable Foursome of Malaysian Women Make Forbes’ 50 Over 50 Asia List.