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Forbes Singapore’s 50 Richest: Seasoned veterans and newcomers alike flourish despite the Covid-19 pandemic

Haidilao’s Zhang Yong and Shu Ping continue to lead, while newcomer Li Xiting shoots to second place amid pandemic-driven demands

The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly hurt some industries badly – the tourism and hospitality industries come to mind – but some billionaires have thrived amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Rapid digitization across the board, surging demand for medical related necessities as well as the booming food delivery business amid the months of working from home led to a 30 per cent jump in the net worth of Singapore’s 50 richest.

This is due in no small part to pandemic-driven demand surges. Chairman and cofounder of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-medical Electronics Li Xiting, worth some S$24.4 billion, saw a huge spike in demand for his company’s ventilators and medical devices. The newcomer took the number 2 spot behind Haidilao founders Zhang Yong and Shu Ping, who managed to keep their leads.

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Nippon Paint’s Goh Cheng Liang returns in third with an increase in his net worth from S$13 billion to S$20.3 billion, closely followed by Eduardo Saverin, Facebook’s cofounder. The venture capitalist and Brazilian native benefited greatly from the rise of Facebook’s shares amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Real estate moguls Robert and Phillip Ng rounded out Singapore’s top five uber-rich billionaires with a combined net worth of S$18.1 million. The sons of the late tycoon Ng Teng Fong, who was known as “the King of Orchard Road”, control Far East Organisation, Singapore’s biggest private landlord and property developer.

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Among the other moneyed contenders on the list, Singapore-based Sea Limited’s cofounders Forrest Li, Gang Ye and David Chen all made the list in 7th, 11th and 25th respectively. The company is now Singapore’s most valuable public company, with shares that have more than tripled in this year – and more than ten times since last year. E-commerce, online gaming and digital payments are the three businesses of Sea Limited, all of which saw strong showings amid circuit breaker measures and extended work-from-home situations.

Kishin RK

Kishin RK

Another big earner was father-son duo Raj Kumar and Kishin RK, who are among Singapore’s leading landlords with their property empire, which includes the Intercontinental Singapore at Robertson Quay. Despite the floundering real estate and hospitality market, Tiffinlabs, Kishin RK’s newest venture, was another big winner that helped the pair to maintain their footing amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The online delivery service doesn’t work like your usual food delivery companies. Instead of taking food from restaurants to hungry diners at home, Tiffinlabs is an all-in-one virtual restaurant that makes the food it delivers.

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While this might not necessarily do well in normal times (after all, what people want is delivery from their favourite restaurants, not just catering), the times haven’t been normal for quite a while. And it’s a trend that might yet catch on, especially if those centralised kitchens become your favourite restaurants.

Other Covid-19 related surges include the supermarket front. Sheng Siong’s Lim brothers saw a 40 per cent bump to their combined net worth to S$1.64 billion, thanks to soaring share prices and strong revenue growth.