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7 Crazy Rich Singapore Tycoons Who Made Their Money From Real Estate

In a list of Singaporean billionaires based on an annual assessment of wealth and assets compiled and published by Forbes magazine in 2021, many of them made their fortune from real estate. It is little wonder as Singapore is known as a safe haven for property investments with its strong governance and stable political climate. As a land scarce nation, properties will always be in demand from both local and overseas investors, and the value almost always on the upward trend.

In today’s article, we take a look at some of these billionaires and their profiles and how much they are worth (please note that it is not in order of their net worth).

Robert & Philip Ng

The Ng brothers are sons of the late Ng Teng Fong, who founded Far East Organization (FEO) and the Sino Group in Hong Kong. Today, the conglomerate consists of FEO, Sino Group, Far East Hospitality Trust and Yeo’s or better known as Yeo Hiap Seng (YHS), a Singapore-listed food and beverages company. It is estimated by Forbes that the Ng brothers are worth an estimated S$15B.

FEO started in the early 1960s developing residential properties before venturing into commercial properties in the 1970s. The late Mr Ng was known as “King of Orchard Road '' and he developed a series of commercial properties along the stretch, namely, Far East Shopping Centre, Lucky Plaza, Orchard Plaza, Claymore Plaza and many others.

Today, FEO is involved in developing residential, commercial, industrial and medical properties both locally and overseas. Its portfolio include the iconic Fullerton Hotel, Novena Medical Centre, One Holland Residences, Amber Sea and many many others.

As Singapore progressed as a country and the real estate market increased in value, so too the fortune of the Ng family.

Kwee Family

The Kwee family owns Pontiac Land Group (PLG) and like the Ng family, is into developing residential, commercial, industrial and medical properties.

Amongst its vast collection of real estate are some of Singapore’s best known hotels such as The Ritz Carlton Millenia, Conrad Centennial, Regent Singapore, Camden Medical Centre, Ardmore Residence and The Colonnade. The family also owns hotels and resorts in Sydney, New York and the Maldives.

In 2020, the Group launched the Fari Islands in the Maldives with three world-class hospitality brands consisting of The Patina and Ritz Carlton and the Capella Hotels & Resorts.

Their estimated worth by Forbes is about S$5.5B.

Kwek Leng Beng & family

Mr Kwek and family owns the Hong Leong Group which include major property developer City Developments (CDL), Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C), Hong Leong Finance and Hong Leong Asia Ltd (HLA). It has gross assets worth over S$40 billion and more than 20,000 people worldwide.

Amongst its portfolio are the South Beach, St. Regis Residences, The Residences At W (Sentosa Cove), Boulevard 88, Republic Plaza, Palais Renaissance. It is also present in more than 29 countries including England, China and Thailand.

The Hong Leong Group is involved not only in real estate but also finance, hospitality and trade and industry.

Raj Kumar & Kishin RK

Mr Raj Kumar and his son Kishin own the Royal Holdings/RB Capital, which was formed after Raj and his brother Asok split their family business, Royal Brothers. Kishin started RB Capital in 2006 as a real estate acquisition and development company, focusing on hospitality, commercial and media properties across the Asia Pacific region.

Today, their portfolio of properties include the Quayside, Holiday Inn Express at Clarke Quay and the Intercontinental Singapore at Robertson Quay. It also has properties in Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia and also owns retail units in Queensway Shopping Centre, Lucky Plaza and others. The father and son duo is estimated to have a combined net worth of about S$3.5 billion.

Choo Chong Ngen

Almost all of us must have heard of Hotel 81,a chain of budget hotels scattered around Singapore. It was started in 1993 by Mr Choo, the Hotel 81 group has expanded to include Value Hotel, Venue Hotel, V Hotel, Hotel Boss and Hotel Mi and was rebranded in 2018 as

Worldwide Hotels Group.

Today, he is worth an estimated S$2.5B and the group has expanded into Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Korea and Australia.

Mr. Choo started his career selling textile and with the money he earned and saved, bought his first property and started the Hotel 81 chain.

Asok Kumar Hiranandani

The brother of the above-mentioned Raj Kumar, Asok started Royal Group Holdings after the split from his brother. Today, the group has investments in hotels, shopping malls, office towers, residential serviced apartments and industrial buildings in the region.

Properties under its portfolio include Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa, Orange Grove Residence and is set to open the new Raffles Sentosa Resort & Spa in 2023.

He is estimated to be worth about S$1.6B.

Christina Ong and Ong Beng Seng

Mr. Ong Beng Seng made headlines this year when he partnered with Mapletree Investments Pte. Ltd. and CLA Real Estate Holdings Pte. Ltd., both wholly owned subsidiaries of Temasek Holdings Limited, to buy over the real estate assets of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) for S$3.9B, outbidding another conglomerate Keppel Corporation. This gives him control of SPH's real estate portfolio of malls, residential properties, student accommodation and nursing homes,

Mr. Ong and his wife Christina Ong owns Hotel Properties Ltd and the COMO group and are estimated to be worth about $1.7B. Among his portfolio of properties are big brand names like

The Four Seasons Hotel, Hilton Hotel and the Hard Rock Cafe.

Mrs Ong founded the COMO group, with business in the hospitality, fashion, and wellness industry. The hospitality arm is COMO Hotels and Resorts with a presence in countries such as Australia, Maldives, Italy, Fiji, Thailand, The UK and others.

As Singapore is a small country with limited land and ever increasing value, real estate plays a huge part in determining one’s wealth. But before anyone thinks that going into the real estate business will turn them into billionaires, think again! The property market is dominated by these well-established businessmen and their companies and entering the market is not as easy as one thinks.

Almost all of the people mentioned above started investing in real estate long ago, when Singapore was still a developing country with low property prices. Many of their companies are also listed in the stock exchanges of Singapore and Hong Kong and their net worth is in tandem with the movement of the stock markets.


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