The Family-Owned Business Dynasties Ruling Southeast Asia
The Lim Family.
Founded in 1965, Resorts World Genting was a result of the late Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong’s vision to build a highland resort. After Tan Sri Lim’s retirement in 2003, the reins were handed over to his son Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay who now holds the position of CEO and Chairman of the Genting Group.
However, the Genting empire has always been known to cause a bit of a stir in the news, with a fair share of headlines on family feuds over ownership and financial allocations last year. This year, they’re still making the news after Genting’s Las Vegas subsidiary, Resorts World Las Vegas recently announced in a filing on Bursa Malaysia that it had sold US$1 billion in a 10-year bond to help furnish the completion of the US$4 billion project that will see a 3,400-room casino built on the Las Vegas strip. The casino is expected to open towards the end of 2020.
Genting Singapore Ltd (GenS) has also announced a whopping US$3.3 billion expansion of its indirect wholly owned subsidiary, Resorts World Sentosa. They’ve also recently acquired Jho Low’s infamous superyacht The Equanimity, which has now been rechristened Tranquility, for US$126 million. Whether the vessel brings the Genting Group some calm remains to be seen.
The Sy family.
The Sy family is behind one of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates, SM Investments, which comes with a net worth of US$20.1 billion according to Forbes’ Asia’s Richest Families list. Its founder, the late Henry Sy, topped Philippines’ rich list for 11 years in a row and was estimated to be worth an impressive US$19 billion at the time of his death in January this year.
Henry Sy left behind a legacy that spans retail (SM Retail), property and banking (BDO Unibank) that now run as a family-owned business headed by Sy’s offsprings. Meanwhile, SM Prime which is the Philippines’ largest shopping mall operator, currently has 70 malls operating in the country as well as seven more in China.
SM is currently looking to double the number of Alfamart mini-markets in the Philippines to 1,000 outlets. The Indonesian mini-market chain was introduced in the country by SM in partnership with PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya Tbk, which is looking to expand its business to the Philippines. Meanwhile, Insider Retail Asia revealed that SM Prime Holdings has committed US$1.53 billion in constructing four new malls, residential units and mixed-use spaces in the Philippines this year.
The Widjaja Family.
As a teenager Eka Tjipta Widjaja sold biscuits to make a living. He later went on to rule an Indonesian business empire spanning paper, real estate, agribusiness and telecom with Sinar Mas Group. Widjaja, who passed away at the age of 95 in January this year, was ranked as the third richest person in Indonesia with a fortune estimated at US$8.6 billion.
As one of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates, Sinar Mas is now run by Widjaja’s children and grandchildren. In 2017, the Indonesian business partnered with Spanish company Cepsa to launch an oleochemical plant in Dumai, Indonesia, to produce, market and develop fatty alcohols and alcohol derivatives based on sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil.
His grandson Fuganto Widjaja now runs mining company Golden Energy and Resources (GEAR), a subsidiary of the Sinar Mas Group and is looking to set up the GEAR Innovation Network centre in Singapore as a way to identify cost-cutting strategies for its mining operations. According to The Straits Times, the centre was set up with an initial investment of US$2 million but that number might be scaled up once the right partners are on board.
This article is an excerpt from UNRESERVED’s June 2019 issue from the article A FAMILY AFFAIR.
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