Robert Kuok, the richest man in Malaysia is at the head of 11.4 billion dollars (9.5 billion euros): it is the 115th fortune in the world. Who will he hand over the keys to his empire to?
Robert Kuok (93 years old) is a Buddhist by his mother and a Communist by his brother, William, killed in 1952 in the bush by the British. After taking over his father’s rice, oil and sugar shop, he took advantage of World War II and the Japanese occupation of his country to establish a real monopoly on the rice trade.
After the return of the British, he and his brothers embarked on the sugar trade, soon taking control of 10% of world production, which enabled him to help the China of his ancestors overcome the shortage. As a reward, he was authorized to develop shopping centers and real estate programs in this immense country. Shangri-La hotels, palm oil and Coca-Cola bottling are today the flagships of his empire.
The solution: There is none at the moment
Because Robert refuses to designate a successor. “We are a very liberal and democratic family,” he argues. A phrase attributed to his mother, which he had engraved on the bottom of a steel dish, sums up his philosophy: “If my children and my grandchildren are like me, they don’t need to inherit from me; but if they don’t look like me, what good would it be if I gave them my fortune? His eight daughters and sons will therefore have to fend for themselves. In the meantime, he remains the boss.
Investors are left to weigh the odds of each other. Will it be Khoon Chen, the eldest (63 years old), whom everyone calls “Handsome”? He always worked alongside his father, which is an asset, but he had an affair with an actress who greatly displeased the family: it is a handicap. Or Khoon Ean, 61, the second son? He’s a little depressed around the edges. Or Khoon Hong, 67 (photo), who brilliantly developed the Singaporean subsidiary specializing in palm oil? Alas, he is only the patriarch’s nephew.
L’empire Kuok :
Flagship : Kerry Group is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
Activity area : agro-industry, hospitality, warehousing, mining and real estate
Revenue in 2016: $ 16.5 billion