Caixin
Aug 21, 2020 07:45 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Native Chinese, Including Haidilao Founders, Carve Out Major Niche on Singapore Rich List

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Four of the richest tycoons in Singapore, including Haidilao International Holding Ltd. co-founders Zhang Yong and his wife Shu Ping, are Chinese-born Singaporean citizens, according to the Forbes 2020 Singapore Rich List.

The hot-pot power couple remained the richest billionaires in the country, together taking the top spot on the list with a combined net worth of $19 billion.

New entrants who cracked the top 10 on this year’s list, which was published Wednesday, include Li Xiting, co-founder and chairman of Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics Co. Ltd., and Forrest Li, group chief executive and chairman of gaming and e-commerce company Sea Ltd. Li Xiting has a net worth of $17.8 billion while Forrest Li is worth $7.1 billion, according to Forbes.

Zhang and Shu together debuted at No.1 on the list in 2019 with a combined net worth of $13.8 billion.

Their Hong-Kong listed hotpot restaurant chain isn’t doing quite as well. Last month, it issued a profit warning that estimated a 900 million yuan to 1 billion yuan net loss for the first half of 2020 as the Covid-19 outbreak forced it to close down its Chinese mainland restaurants for three months. Haidilao reopened those restaurants in April.

Li Xiting’s Mindray, China’s largest medical-equipment manufacturer, expects a 38% to 48% increase in profit for the first half as global demand for ventilators, electronic monitors and ultrasound scanners has surged amid the pandemic.

New York-listed Sea’s stock price is up 880% over the last 18 months, propelling its valuation to $69 billion and making it the most valuable listed company in Southeast Asia. Like other Chinese tech giants Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Sea has grown into an internet behemoth with subsidiaries specializing in a range of business, including gaming company Garena, e-commerce platform Shopee and digital payment firm SeaMoney.

Singapore’s 50 richest people saw their collective wealth rise 28% to $167 billion amid the pandemic-induced recession.

Still, Singapore remained the world’s most competitive economy, according to the latest report from the International Institute for Management Development, which was released on June 20. The country has for decades attracted billionaire Chinese immigrants thanks to its favorable immigration policy, solid infrastructure and business friendly environment.

In terms of billionaire friendly immigration policy, Singapore’s Global Investor Program (GIP) is designed to offer permanent residency to tycoons or entrepreneurs looking to invest or start businesses in the country.

Singapore has long been seen as an ideal place to do business because it exempts goods in transit from customs duties and allows capital trading without foreign exchange controls. The country also appeals to businesses and individuals with a tax system under which companies can take advantage of multiple tax holidays and deductions, while residents don’t have to pay tax on income earned overseas.

A shared language has led many Chinese immigrants to choose Singapore over countries in the West. With 70% of its population of Chinese descent, the country has Mandarin as one of its official languages.

Over the years, Hong Kong and Singapore have been the two most favored places for Chinese billionaires to open personal bank accounts and run family businesses. But the political unrest in Hong Kong over the past year has tipped the balance in Singapore’s favor.

Contact editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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