It is well known that Singapore is the richest city in the world. The island is home to 44 billionaires and is home to an increasing number of tycoons that literally own the earth you walk on.
These conglomerates have been relying on economic opportunities since independence and operate almost all aspects of industry. from banking to real estate to fashion.
Here are 7 Singaporean families who run almost everything behind the scenes.
1. Kwek / Quek family: Hong Leong Group
The Kwek family owns the Hong Leong Group and has net assets of over $ 23.3 billion. It is number 7 on the Forbes list of the richest families in Asia.
Photo credit: The Peak Singapore
Kwek Hong Png, an immigrant from Fujian, founded the Hong Leong Group in 1941 as a general trading company.
During the post-war period, Kwek took advantage of the demand for industrialization and expanded Hong Leong into new industries.
Today the conglomerate has over 300 companies and gross assets of over S $ 40 billion.
The portfolio includes financing and property developments such as Sentosa Cove and the Millennium and Copthorne Hotels.
Currently over 15 family members control the group. Kwek's eldest son and heir, Leng Beng, leads operations in Singapore, while his cousin Quek Leng Chan leads operations in Malaysia.
2. Ng family: Far East organization
The Ng family owns the Far East Organization (FEO) and their Hong Kong branch, Sino Group, for a total net worth of $ 9.7 billion.
Ng Teng Fong, an immigrant from Fujian, China, founded FEO in 1960. The company quickly diversified its portfolio in the real estate industry and expanded into housing and hotel development, department stores, finance and more.
Ng was nicknamed "King of Orchard Road" and became the largest private landowner in Singapore in 1980.
Today FEO develops first class properties in Singapore and Hong Kong, such as the Fullerton Hotel and Orchard Central.
Ng, Robert and Philip's heirs succeeded their father in the 1990s and are convinced Christians who call FEO a "Christian company".
3. Small family: United Overseas Bank (UOB)
The Wee family holds a net worth of $ 6.25 billion resulting from its interests in United Overseas Bank (UOB) and its subsidiaries.
Photo credit: Bloomberg
UOB was founded in 1935 by Wee Kheng Chiang, a businessman based in Sarawak. His son Wee Cho Yaw took over the seat of the managing director in 1960.
Under Cho Yaw, UOB expanded its industries and aggressively acquired smaller banks. In 1971, UOB became the second largest banking group in Singapore and Malaysia.
In 2001, UOB outperformed DBS and acquired Overseas Union Bank to become the largest bank in Singapore.
UOB is currently the third largest bank in Singapore, which is managed by Ee Cheong, the third generation to succeed the Wee family.
According to a 2018 report, UOB currently has 500 offices in 19 countries on three continents and assets of over $ 388 billion. The family also controls Haw Par, maker of Tiger Balm.
4. Kwee family: Pontiac Land Group
The Kwee family controls the Pontiac Land Group (PLG) and has net assets of $ 5.3 billion.
Another Fujian immigrant, Henry Kwee Hian Liong, was a Chinese-Indonesian textile trader and real estate developer who founded PLG in 1961.
Hian Long's four sons inherited his goods and continue to run the family business together.
Today PLG develops luxury hotels and office towers and owns properties such as the Millenia and Centennial Towers, the Club Residences, the Ritz Carlton and resorts in the Maldives.
The third generation of Kwees is being prepared for the takeover. Evan Kwee, the only son of Pontiac's chairman, Kwee Liong Tek, is the managing director of Capella Hotel Group Asia.
5.Choo family: Hotel 81
The Choo family leads the Worldwide Hotels Group with a net worth of $ 3.2 billion.
Photo credit: Singapore Tatler
The Worldwide Hotels Group owns brands such as Hotel 81, Swiss-Garden Kuala Lumpur and Ibis Hotel Brisbane.
In 1993, Choo Chong Ngen, born in Singapore, opened Hotel 81, the largest and best-known budget hotel chain in the red light district of Singapore. Choo expanded rapidly and developed hotels in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Choo hotel chain was finally renamed Worldwide Hotel Group and offers a variety of hotels for different budget points.
Choo's children are prepared to take over the group. Carolyn Choo, the second of his daughters, is the CEO and CEO of the Worldwide Hotels Group.
6.Kumar family: Royal Holdings & RB Capital
Raj Kumar and Kishin RK are a father-son duo owned by Royal Holdings and RB Capital with a combined net worth of $ 2.7 billion.
Photo credit: Knight Frank
Royal Holdings was founded in 1947 and managed by Kumar and his brother until the two separated in 2012.
Originally a textile company, business expanded into commercial units in the 1980s and came into the spotlight with the acquisition of hotel properties in the 1990s.
Following in Kumar's footsteps, Kishin founded RB Capital in 2006 with the proceeds from the sale of an apartment that was given to him by his parents.
The father and son are now one of the few non-Chinese tycoons to cooperate in Singapore.
Royal Holdings and RB Capital manage properties such as the Holiday Inn in Queenstown, Australia, and the Intercontinental Hotel on Robertson Quay.
7. Ong family: Hotel Properties Limited & COMO Group
Christina Ong and Ong Beng Seng are a married couple who own Hotel Properties Limited and the COMO group. The net worth is $ 1.7 billion.
Credit: Vulcan Post
Hotel Properties Limited was founded by Ong in 1980 and has developed into a global company that manages luxury hotels and other real estate.
These include brands such as Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels, the Hard Rock Cafe and Paddington Square in London. In 2007 Ong signed a contract to bring the Formula 1 race to Singapore.
Christina heads the COMO group, which consists of brands from the hotel, fashion and wellness sectors. The group manages companies such as Club 21 and COMO Hotels and Resorts.
Real estate development and management is a hot topic in Singapore's billion dollar families. This is not surprising given the notoriously breakneck property prices in a dense city-state.
As the next generation is preparing for the takeover after an average of more than 40 years in the industry, the succession remains a decisive moment for family dynasties.
A mix of new and old money. The only thread that connects these families is a strong sense of business that has enabled their wealth to stand the test of time.
Selected image source: Vulcan Post