SINGAPORE: Malaysia's 40 richest are worth a total of US$64.4 billion, up US$2.3 billion from the year before, according to the latest Forbes list. Most of the country's biggest fortunes didn't change much over the past year.
Robert Kuok retains his title as Malaysia's richest person with a net worth of US$12.4 billion, down slightly from US$12.5 billion the year before.
Kuok, 88, has held the top position since 2006 when Forbes Asia began ranking the 40 richest Malaysians, with his vast empire spanning sugar, palm oil, shipping and property.
In second place is Ananda Krishnan, 73, who saw his net worth rise US$400 million to US$9.9 billion.
He is shopping around his entire power portfolio in Malaysia, South Asia and the Middle East in a deal that could raise US$2 billion. His MaxisCommunications, the country's biggest cellphone service provider, recently inked a 10-year deal to share its 3G network with rival UMobile.
In third place is Lee Kim Hua, whose net worth fell just 1.5 per cent to US$6.5 billion.
The family behind the Genting gambling empire is making news with its high-profile attempts to expand operations in the US.
Lee's son, Lim Kok Thay, who runs the Genting Group, saw his fortune slip nine per cent to US$605 million.
Lee Shin Cheng, who built IOI Group into one of the world's biggest palm oil producers, retains his spot at No. 4 with a net worth of US$5.2 billion, up by US$200 million from last year.
Malaysia now has 11 billionaires, up from 10 last year, as brothers Lee Oi Han and Lee Hau Hian, who control palm oil and chemical companyBatu Kawan, saw their net worth climb into the ten-figure ranks.
Their fortune jumped 22 per cent as shares in Batu Kawan rose on higher palm oil prices.
Three newcomers debuted on the list, notably Ninian Mogan Lourdenadin, a doctor turned retail magnate who is ranked at No. 22 with a US$500 million net worth.
He is Group CEO of MBF Holdings and runs a property, retail, leisure and medical services business empire that stretch from Malaysia to Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Australia.
Another newcomer to the list is Gooi Seong Lim who heads Crescendo, a property development and construction company. He is ranked No. 34 with a net worth of US$220 million.
Ng Joo Siang, also made it to the list for the first time at No. 37 with a networth of US$185 million. The 52-year old took over Pacific Andes International Holdings, a family business from his father.
In addition to the three new entries, two members returned to the list: Kua Sian Kooi, Executive Chairman of auto insurer Kumia Asia with a net worth of US$160 million; and Khoo Kay Peng, Chairman of Malayan United Industries, with a net worth of US$155 million.
Overall, 21 of the tycoons on the list saw their fortune rise, while 12 suffered a drop and two remained even.
This year, a minimum net worth of US$155 million was needed to qualify for the list, up from US$125 million last year.
Unlike the billionaire rankings, the Malaysian list includes fortunes that are shared among extended families. The list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and the Companies Commission of Malaysia.
Net worths are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of Feb 14, 2012. - BERNAMA