Four with India connection among Singapore’s 40 richest

August 23rd, 2008 - 11:58 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 23 (IANS) Four people with an India connection figure in the Forbes list of Singapore’s 40 richest who have managed to add to their fortunes amidst the global economic turmoil that hit Singapore hard.Among the four with links to India were Vivian Chandran, Filipino-American widow of Indian origin businessman Robert Chandran, garment-maker Kartar Singh Thakral, Mustafa Centre owner Mustaq Ahmad and exporter Sunny George Verghese.

Figuring at number 23 is Vivian Chandran with a net worth of $240 million. One the four new entrants to the list, the widow with two children inherited a stake in marine fuel provider Chemoil, founded by her husband who died in a helicopter crash in Indonesia in January.

She also stepped into her husband’s role as chairman of Franklin Baker, privately held Philippine coconut-product maker.

At number 30 comes 74-year-old Thakral with a net worth of $190 million. A father of five, he joined family trading firm Thakral Corp in Singapore in 1949.

Today, the majority of his wealth comes from Thakral Holdings, a property company listed in Australia that invests in hotels, shopping malls and residences. He also chairs Indian garment-maker Givo.

Next at number 38 is 57-year-old Ahmad with a net worth of $130 million. He inherited the famous 24-hour Mustafa Centre that reportedly offers more than 150,000 items - from branded fountain pens to rice - to an estimated 15,000 customers daily. He has four children. His uncle also owns a piece of Mustafa.

In the next spot is 48-year-old Verghese with a net worth of $125 million, another new entrant to the list. A British citizen, he heads cashew and cocoa trader Olam International. Partnering with Kuok Khoon Hong’s (No.5) Wilmar he bought a 20 percent stake in natural sweetener producer PureCircle.

This year he was appointed chairman of International Enterprise Singapore, part of the trade and industry ministry.

At $32 billion, the total net worth of Singapore’s 40 richest remained unchanged from last year. Forbes noted that even amid the economic turmoil, plenty of Singapore’s businessmen and women added to their fortunes, thanks in part to the Singapore dollar’s strength against the US dollar, appreciating nine percent past year.

On top again is Ng Teng Fong, worth $7 billion, $300 million more than last year because of a more in-depth valuation of his real estate holdings. Kuok Khoon Hong, co-founder of palm oil giant Wilmar International, and Peter Lim, an early investor, are Singapore’s newest billionaires, thanks to the company’s rising share price, up 31 percent in the past 12 months.

Noting that Singapore’s multi ethnic mix and pro-business policies have made it a haven for international investors and executives, the report said that the top 40 include those who made their fortunes in the city-state or “listed their companies there, even if they are citizens of another country”.

Public fortunes of those on the list were calculated using share prices and exchange rates as of Aug 7. For privately held assets, Forbes estimated what they would be worth if public.

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