Last month, we shared the Forbes Malaysia Billionaire List 2015 on our Estate123 Facebook page, which included Robert Kuok and Ananda Krishnan, who are some of the richest men in Southeast Asia. However, when it comes to property, did our Malaysia #1 make the list, and just how much real estate assets does it take to join the list of the World’s 20 Richest Individuals in Real Estate?
Let’s take a look.
Twenty-two people made the Forbes Billionaires List for the first time this year thanks to their real estate holdings, bringing the total number of the property-rich on the Forbes list to a whopping 184. Among the 20 wealthiest property tycoons in the world, 10 are from the Asia-Pacific region: six from Hong Kong, two from China, one each from Singapore and Malaysia. Five are American and four hail from Europe (two from the United Kingdom, one from Germany, and one from Russia).
The wealthiest man in Asia and also the richest real estate tycoon in the world, with a net worth of $28.7 billion, is China’s Wang Jianlin, who places 18th overall on the Forbes Billionaires List. (For perspective, securely in the billionaire top spot is Bill Gates with a net worth of $75 billion.) Wang started as a commercial real estate developer building shopping plazas and hotels, but now his fortune is diversified. He now owns movie theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, and is planning to buy American film and TV production company Legendary Entertainment.
In the number 2 spot is another Asian billionaire, Hong Kong’s Lee Shau Kee who has a net worth of $21.5 billion and 31st in the overall Billionaire’s List. Lee is from humble origins, and grew up in a family that could only afford to eat meat or fish twice a month. His business empire encompasses real estate, hotels, energy and investments, led by flagship Henderson Land Development. Most Asian real estate billionaires owe their fortunes to commercial rather than residential properties, as demand for such properties is still going strong in China’s major cities.
Following in third place is German real estate tycoon Michael Otto, who has a net worth of $15.4 billion and ranks #51 in the overall list, though his fortune is family-shared. The Otto Group bills itself as the second-largest Internet retailer in the world after Amazon.com, and the company is also active in real estate and financial services. Michael’s brother Alexander manages the family’s ECE Group, which develops and manages shopping centers (196 under management, at last count). It also develops and builds transport complexes, logistics centers, company headquarters, office complexes, industrial buildings and special-purpose properties. Another family entity manages roughly 8,300 apartments and 1.5 million square feet of industrial space in the Toronto area.
The fourth richest real estate tycoon, first name Donald, is also the wealthiest American property baron. No, it isn’t Donald Trump. Property developer Donald Bren has a net worth of $15.1 billion and owns a diverse 110 million square foot portfolio concentrated in Southern California. His Irvine Company owns and manages more than 500 office buildings, more than 40 shopping centers, 50,000 apartments, three hotels and several golf clubs and marinas, in addition expansion into Silicon Valley with a new 100-acre development.
Currently notorious US presidential candidate, Donald Trump, is not in the top 20 of the world’s richest real estate moguls, despite being a famous real estate tycoon in America (at $4.5 billion, he places #36 in real estate and #324 in the overall rich list).
Real estate and metals moguls, brothers David and Simon Reuben from the United Kingdom, take the fifth place on this list at $14.4 billion. They started modestly – David traded metals, Simon imported carpets and bought real estate – then in the 1990s, they joined together in Transworld, a metals trader that invested in Russia and Kazakhstan, which reportedly controlled 7% of the world’s aluminum trade. They sold this business and focused on building a property portfolio, and the rest is history.
Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau comes in at #6 with a net worth of $13.8 billion. He owns three-quarters of Chinese Estates, one of Hong Kong’s largest real estate investors, and numerous properties in London as well as an art collection worth at least $1 billion. You may remember him as the guy who bought a $28.6 million pink diamond and a $48 million blue diamond – on two consecutive days, no less! – for his 7-year-old daughter in November 2015, making headlines worldwide for the extravagant purchase.
UK landowner and property developer Gerald Grosvenor ($13 billion; #7) is technically a real estate duke, as he is known formally as the 6th Duke of Westminster. Another set of brothers, Thomas and Raymond Kwok from Hong Kong, place #8 with a net worth of $13 billion, while the UK’s Stephen Ross ranks in at #9 with $12 billion. Malaysia’s very own “Sugar King” Robert Kuok placed at a respectable #10 in the list with a net worth of $10 billion sourced from the palm oil industry, shipping and real estate.
Here’s the full list of the world’s 20 richest real estate moguls:
- Wang Jianlin (China); $28.7 billion
- Lee Shau Kee (Hong Kong); $21.5 billion
- Michael Otto (Germany); $15.4 billion
- Donald Bren (US); $15.1 billion
- David & Simon Reuben (UK); $14.4 billion
- Joseph Lau (Hong Kong); $13.1 billion
- Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor (UK); $13 billion
- Thomas & Raymond Kwok (Hong Kong); $13 billion
- Stephen Ross (US); $12 billion
- Robert Kuok (Malaysia); $10 billion
- Andrew Beal (US); $9.4 billion
- Hui Ka Yan (China); $8.6 billion
- Eyal Ofer (Israel); $8.4 billion
- Stanley Kroenke (US); $7.7 billion
- Robert & Philip Ng (Singapore); $7.6 billion
- Peter Woo (Hong Kong); $6.6 billion
- Walter Kwok (Hong Kong); $6.2 billion
- Mikhail Gutseriev (Russia); $5.9 billion
- Richard LeFrak (US); $5.9 billion
- Pan Sutong (Hong Kong); $5.9 billion
A quick check from Forbes’ The World’s Billionaires list found Malaysia’s third richest individual, Quek Leng Chan, made it to number 26 on the Real Estate list. Not bad for a Southeast Asian country that has relatively less land than most of its neighbours (except Singapore).
Forbes “The 20 Richest Real Estate Barons In The World 2016”
Forbes ‘The World’s Billionaires’ list