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Date [ 2015-03-19, 05:50 ]

Some billionaires are now just millionaires.

Dato Mokhzani-Mahathir hit wil oil's low price,

(Kuala Lumpur=Korean Press)  Lui Lai Keen = Once upon a time, rubber and tin made Malaysian millionaires. That was the time the Malaysian economy was dominated by agriculture. Then came modernisation in the 70s and the country became industrialised. With the discovery of oil, the country took off.

Along with it came the evolution of not millionaires but billionaires. Quite a few made their fortune by investing in oil and gas. Forbes’s list of Malaysia’s top 50 fortunes has 11 tied to the oil sector. But today with oil prices tumbling down, from a peak of USD115 to way below USD50 a barrel, some public figures got burnt. Those who had accumulated their riches in oil and gas saw their wealth plummeting by hundreds of millions of ringgit, or shall we say in US dollars?

One name which sprang out was that of Mokhzani Mahathir. He is a major shareholder in the region’s biggest oil & gas service provider – SapuraKencana Petroleum, Mokhzani saw his net worth plunge by RM1.8 billion, knocking him out of the B Boys Clubs that ranked billionaires. When compared with other investors, the son of Malaysia’s former prime minister, had a 42% drop, the biggest in percentage terms of anyone else on this year’s Forbes list of Malaysian billionaires and pushed him off from 26th position...

Still on SapuraKencana, it had as its main investors, the brothers Shahril and Shahriman Shamsuddin. They lost nearly 40% of their net worth, falling from USD1.4 billion a year ago to the current figure of USD860 . They now stand 21st on the list, down from 11th on Forbes 2014 list.

The drop in oil price also hurt Malaysia’s top three richest–Robert Kuok, Ananda Krishnan and Quek Leng Chan–who each have significant oil & gas operations.

This year’s list had about 24 members fall into a loss as the local stock market had its share values tumble down. The main reason being the collapse of oil prices, sending the ringgit down 10% against the green buck.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia and some parts of Asia, countries were also in a quagmire of economic chaos. One effect was a drop in Chinese high rollers and which meant less players to the Gentings Casino, Bad news for operator, Lim Kok Thay who also saw a dip in his Singapore sector.

On the flip side, a cheaper ringgit added extra punch for exporters. Glovemakers smiled all the way to the bank, .especially Lau Cho Kun who finally joined the B Boys Club as the money rolled in. not only  from his glove trading but also his plantations. The dark side was  glovemaker Stanley Thai, who is mired with charges of insider trading.

Above this gloom was the entry of four new names coming on the list. One of them was property developers Khoo Cheng Hai of KSL Holdings, the others were Kong Chong Soon of United Overseas Australia, packaging specialist Lim Teck Meng and oil-ship fabricator Ng Chin Heng.

Dropping out was Robert Tan, who has taken the opportunity to  restructure his real estate empire.

Finally, it is bad news for oil gas billionaires to have prices going down but good news for the common man. He now has to pay less at petrol pumps and so the cost of driving is more affordable for him.

abc@koreanpress.net

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