Who are the richest families in ASEAN?

Sofia Tomacruz
Who are the richest families in ASEAN?
All together, the estimated net worth of ASEAN’s richest families is about $222.86 billion

MANILA, Philipppines (UPDATED) – As the 6th largest economy in the world, a driving force behind economic growth in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are families who continue to run some of the largest companies in the region.

The businesses these families run cut across countries and industries to form part of the daily fabric of those who live in the region. 

Many of these families also have members who are among the richest in ASEAN and the world. (READ: Crazy rich ASEANs: Billionaires from the Southeast Asian Region

Together, the estimated net worth of ASEAN’s richest families spans at least 3 generations and totals about $222.86 billion, according to latest figures from Forbes’ list of Asia’s richest families. However, most come from only 5 of the 10 ASEAN countries namely: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore. 

Who are some of ASEAN’s richest families?

RICHEST IN ASEAN. Dhanin Chearavanont, chairman and CEO of Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group, answers questions at the 16th Nikkei Global Management Forum in Tokyo on November 12, 2014. AFP file photo

1. Chearavanont family
Estimated net worth: $36.6B

The Chearavanont family from Thailand sources most of their wealth from Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), one of the largest animal feed and livestock producers in the world.

The business started in 1921 as a seed shop in Bangkok after founder Chia Ek Chor, along with his brother, arrived from China. The family also runs the country’s chain of 7-Eleven stores as well as telecommunication and retail businesses.

 2. R. Budi and Michael Hartono
Estimated net worth: $32B

The Hartono brothers, who make for the 2nd richest family in ASEAN, have also been Indonesia’s richest for 8 years in a row. Much of their wealth comes from clove cigarette manufacturing company, Djarum. The family also owns a large stake in Bank Central Asia.

 3. Kwek/Quek family
Estimated net worth: $23.3B

In Singapore and Malaysia, the Kweks and their cousins from the Quek family run conglomerate Hong Leong Group.

The group’s core businesses include banking and financial services, manufacturing and distribution, property development and investment, as well as hospitality and leisure. The family’s fortune was founded in 1941, after founder Kwek Hong Peng emigrated from China along with his 3 brothers.

PHILIPPINES' RICHEST. Filipino-Chinese property tycoon Henry Sy Sr. (on wheelchair) arrives for the opening of one of his shopping malls, the SM Aura, in Manila on May 16, 2013. File photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

4. Sy family
Estimated net worth: $20.1B

Henry Sy, Filipino-Chinese businessman and patriarch of the SM group, has also been the Philippines’ richest person for a decade. The family’s SM Investment Corporation is best known for its chain of SM Malls and retail stores. The family’s business interests include property development as well as banking and financial services, aside from retail.

The company was founded in 1958 when Sy opened his first shoe store in Manila, selling surplus GI boots after World War II.

 5. Chirathivat family
Estimated net worth: $19.3B

The Chirathicat family, also known as Thailand’s first family of retail, runs Central Group – one of the country’s largest mall developers. 

The company was founded in 1947, with Tiang Chirathivat, the group’s founder, opening Central’s first department store in 1956. Today the group also operates several hotels and restaurants aside from its retail interests.

HOTEL TYCOON. Malaysia's richest man Robert Kuok (C) receives a souvenir from a Chinese official (R) during his visit to Fuzhou, in southeastern China's Fujian province, on April 18, 2005, as president of the Kuok clan in Malaysia. AFP file photo

6. Kuok Family
Estimated net worth: $16.6B

Best known for its luxury hotel chain Shangri-La, the Kuok family is Southeast Asia’s 5th richest family. Founded by Chinese-Malaysia businessman Robert Kuok in 1949, conglomerate Kuok group began as Kuok Brothers Limited – a small business trading rice, sugar, and wheat flour in Malaysia.

The group used to own a stake in news outlet South China Morning Post, which it sold to Jack Ma’s Alibaba for $265 million, according to Forbes. Today, its businesses have expanded into property, hospitality, and logistics among others, with operations in all 5 continents.

7. Yoovidhya family
Estimated net worth: $13.1B

The Yoovidhyas’ fortune stems mostly from energy drink empire Red Bull. The late  Chaleo Yoovidhya created the world famous drink with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz in 1987. According to Forbes, the company reportedly sold 6.06 billion cans in 2016.

Previous reports put the family in the spotlight as heir Vorauth Yoovidhya continue to face criminal charges for a fatal hit and run case in 2012. Interpol issued an international arrest notice for the billionaire back in August.

8. Widjaja family
Estimated net worth: $10.4B

The Widjaja family from Indonesia sources its wealth from a wide array of businesses under the Sinar Mars group which has operations in industries, including palm oil, pulp and paper, telecommunications, real estate, financial services, mining, and agriculture. The group was established in 1962 by Eka Tjipta Widjaja who came to Indonesia from China.

According to Forbes, the family aims to create Indonesia’s own Silicon Valley, which aims to be a hub that will cater to startups in the country.

9. Ng family
Estimated net worth: $9.7B

Singapore’s Ng family is not only the 7th richest family in Southeast Asia, it’s also the richest family in Singapore. Its businesses focus mainly on property development in Singapore and Hong Kong with companies Far East Organization and Sino Group. However it also has interests in hospitality as well as the food and beverage industry. The group also operates in Australia.

It was founded in the 1970s after founder Ng Teng Fong immigrated to Singapore from China.

10. Salim family
Estimated net worth: $8.8B

The Salims, an Indonesian family, are perhaps best known for operating Indofood, the world’s largest producer of instant noodles. However, their business interests also involve telecommunications, mining, and property development, among others, with operations across the ASEAN region.

The group was founded in 1949 after patriarch Liem Sioe Liong moved to Indonesia from China in 1938.

11. Lohia family
Estimated net worth: $8.68B

From Indonesia, the Lohia family’s wealth comes mainly from petrochemical and textile company Indorama Corporation. Father and son duo, Mohan Lal Lohia and Sri Prakash Lohia founded the company in 1975 after moving to Indonesia from India in 1973. 

The company is also one of the largest polyester producers in the world, manufacturing products like PET bottles, fertilizers, textiles, and medical gloves.

12. Khoo family
Estimated net worth: $6.4B

In Singapore, the Khoo family’s wealth is sourced mainly from the sale of the family’s shares in Standard Chartered Bank in 2006 for an estimated $4 billion, according to Forbes. Besides this, the family also operates hotel and hospitality businesses under the Goodwood Group of Hotels. 

The clan’s patriarch, Khoo Teck Puat, was once the richest man in Singapore before passing away in 2004.

13. Wee family
Estimated net worth: $6.25B

The Wee family from Singapore is also among ASEAN’s richest families. Much of the group’s wealth comes from the family’s operations of United Overseas Bank but it also operates businesses in property development through the family’s real estate arm, Kheng Leng. The group was founded in 1935.

BUOYED. Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel de Ayala at the annual stockholders meeting of Ayala Corp. on April 19, 2013. Rappler file photo

14. Zobel family
Estimated net worth: $6.13B

The Zobel family, who operates one of the Philippines’ oldest conglomerates, is among the richest families in ASEAN. Under Ayala Corporation, the group is best known for their chain of Ayala Malls. However they are also known for their operations in telecommunications, banking and financial services, and water, and energy. 

The group was founded in 1834 and is currently being run by its 7th generation family members. 

15. Kwee family
Estimated net worth: $5.5B

Also from Singapore, the Kwee family’s wealth comes mainly from property development. The family operates Pontiac Land, which owns and has developed several luxury hotels and office towers in the country. 

The group also has interests in the hospitality industry and are reportedly building a resort complex in the Maldives as well as an apartment complex in New York, to be located next to the Museum of Modern Art. The group was established in 1961.

Falling from the ranks

FIFTH GENERATION. In this photo are some 5th generation members of the Aboitiz family: (L-R) Carlos Aboitiz, Tristan Aboitiz, Ana Aboitiz-Delgado, Rafa de Mesa, William Paradies. Rappler file photo

Out of this year’s list of Asia’s richest families are the Philippines’ Aboitiz family, Malaysia’s Lim family and Singapore’s Hiranandani family.

The Aboitiz family has business interests in power, food, property development, and banking and financial services.

They run several companies including holding firm Abpitiz Equity Ventures, good company Pilmico, Unionbank, as well as Aboitiz Power. They trace their business origins back to the late 1800s, starting from abaca trading. 

The family’s estimated net worth in 2016 was about $4.95 billion.

Malaysia’s Lim family sources much of its wealth from casino business Genting Group – popularly known for its brand Resorts World which has lcoations worldwide. Genting Group was founded in 1965 and is based mainly in Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. 

Aside from casinos, the Lims are also involved in power generation as well as oil and gas. Their estimated net worth in 2016 was about $4.25 billion.

Meanwhile, brothers Raj Kumar and Asok Hiranandani are also out of the list of Asia’s richest families this year. Their family’s wealth comes mainly from real estate, under companies Royal Group Holdings and RB Capital.

The group was established in 1947 and was jointly run until 2011, when the Hiranandani brothers decided to divide their property empire.

The estimated net worth of the family in 2016 was about $3.8 billion.  Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.