5 property tycoons in malaysia 1
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Were you once the king (or queen) of the monopoly board, dreaming of the day you could place your spot on Piccadilly or Bukit Tunku for real? Well, today you can be inspired by the fact that many of those who have firmly etched themselves into the property hall of fame began with a dream, just like you.

Finding success in the property game isn’t only for ‘the rare’. Sometimes, you just need to follow the road that has been left behind by those that have walked before you.

You don’t have to look overseas to the Donald Trumps of the world, we have property giants right here in sunny Malaysia.

No. 1 - Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan

Flagship: Hong Leong Group

Net worth: US$7.1 billion

Source: https://www.forbes.com/profile/quek-leng-chan/

In 1965, at around 21 years of age, Quek took the helm of the family business in Malaysia, which was then only a small hardware shop along Jalan Maharajalela. He built up the business in Malaysia while others handled the parent company in Singapore. Five decades later, the company, Hong Leong Company (M) Bhd possesses reserves of RM36.5bn.

He went on to build an even bigger empire in Hong Kong which includes Guoco Group Ltd, listed on the exchange in Hong Kong with interests in property, real estate and gaming. Some of his projects in Malaysia include Damansara CITY - DC Residency and PJ City, just to name a few.

The group also has a stake in Singapore-listed property company GuocoLand Ltd, with land banks in Malaysia, China, Singapore and Vietnam in addition to controlling Rank Group PLC, a London-listed gaming outfit with betting and gaming services in Belgium, Spain and the Channel Islands. Quek has also taken a slice of Eco World International Bhd. 

No. 2 - Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng

Flagship: IOI Group

Net worth: US$5 billion

Source: https://www.forbes.com/profile/lee-shin-cheng/

Lee’s father ran a Chinese food shop and he grew up on a rubber plantation. Forced to quit school at age 11 in order to help support his family, Lee sold ice cream on a bicycle for four years. The man responsible for IOI Corp Berhad is also the Executive Chairman of IOI Properties Group Berhad.

IOI Properties was ranked second in The Edge's Malaysia Top 10 Property Developers Award In 2005 and IOI has an extensive portfolio of properties which include 2 resort hotels (Palm Garden Hotel in Putrajaya and Marriott Putrajaya Hotel) as well as refineries in the US and the Netherlands. The company also won a US$322 mn bid for a 6-acre plot for residential buildings in downtown Singapore.

In Malaysia, the company is well known for much of the development of the Puchong residential area as well as the construction of IOI Shopping Mall. Other developments in Malaysia include Conezion and Bandar IOI Segamat.

IOI City Mall was once in the middle of nowhere and nobody expected the area would have a shopping mall. The company has displayed much foresight and at times when many companies look to sell their land or properties, IOI looks to increase its land bank.

The company also takes advantage of places where land is cheaper than in urban areas, IOI Properties has focused on launching projects in the outskirts such as in Sepang and Bangi.

The group’s first major property venture abroad was ill fated due to bad timing. This was in 2008, in Singapore and the global financial crisis hit just after IOI Property purchased the land in Sentosa Island for development.

However, the group says that the units built in the Sentosa Island project are now available for rent and that it has been able to make money from its Singapore ventures. Another of the IOI group’s major property investments abroad is the acquisition of a 6.2-acre parcel in Xiamen, China, for 2.3 bn Yuan (about US$346 mn).

No. 3 - Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay 

Flagship: Genting Group

Net worth: US$4.65 billion

Source: https://www.forbes.com/profile/lim-kok-thay/

No list of Malaysian property tycoons would be complete without including the Lim dynasty.

Some people are just born to become property industry success stories. After all, not everyone can be the son of legendary property pioneer Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong, who arrived in Malaysia from Fujian, China at age 19, with barely anything to his name and dreamt up Genting Highlands, a jungle hilltop resort.

The Genting group, which established its fortunes on the Genting Highlands casino/resort has expanded abroad with the purchase of the U.K.'s biggest casino operator and the establishment of a gambling resort in Singapore. The diversified Genting group (genting means atop the clouds in Chinese) now is in the hotel, palm oil and cruise industries to mention a few.

The construction of a 20th Century Fox World theme park (estimated to cost RM2 bn) as well as a Genting Premium Outlet store and a shopping mall are some of the group’s latest developments. Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay is the CEO and president of Genting Bhd and in addition to running the casinos in Genting Highlands and Genting Singapore, he also sits on the board of Wider Superyachts and manages casinos in New York, the Bahamas, London as well as South Korea. In Malaysia, the group is also involved in Windmill Upon Hills and geo38 Residence.

Lim inherited the empire from his father and is the only one of his siblings (two brothers and four sisters) actively involved in the family business. Family feuds are not uncommon in powerful dynasties and the Lim dynasty is no different. Legal action has reportedly been taken by the children of the late Datuk Lim Tee Keong (Goh Tong’s eldest son) against their uncle (Kok Thay) regarding Tee Keong’s will and the removal of two of his children from the Tee Keong Family Trust.

No. 4 - Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay

Flagship: YTL Corp Bhd

Net worth: US$2.3 billion

Source: https://www.forbes.com/profile/yeoh-tiong-lay/

Born in 1929 in Klang, Yeoh Tiong Lay is the Chairman of YTL Corporation and a graduate of Hin Hua High School. While almost unknown outside Malaysia, the company is a local success story and the result of three generations which entered the construction industry during Malaysia’s modernisation period in the 1960s through building commercial properties, army housing and schools. Although the company began as a small construction firm, it grew to become the largest conglomerate in Malaysia and by the 1980s, it was involved in hospitals, industrial facilities, universities, high-rise offices and more.

YTL generates US$5.3 bn in annual revenues and holds interests in construction and hotels to name a few. The company not only survived but thrived during the economic downturn in 1998, buying over and managing world-class hotels. The group also has hospitality assets in the UK. YTL Hotels has also claimed that it is buying a five-star boutique hotel in London called Threadneedles Hotel.

In Malaysia, the company’s residential properties include The Saffron and Pantai Peak.

Yeoh’s seven children are all involved in the business and YTL is at present run by his son, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh (Managing Director of YTL Corp Bhd), who continues to establish the company’s global presence in the leisure and property development industries.

No. 5 - Tan Sri Azman Hashim

Flagship: Amcorp Group

Net worth: US$490 million

Source: https://www.forbes.com/profile/azman-hashim/

Born in Kampung Baru to a technician father and headmistress mother in a family of 13 siblings, Azman excelled early and obtained a first grade in the Senior Cambridge Examination after which he was offered accountancy on a Colombo Plan Scholarship, which took him to Australia. He became a chartered accountant before the tender age of 21.

No stranger to trials and tribulations, Azman first had to face the May 13, 1969 racial riots, while building his stock market assets and then the property crash in 1985. That wasn’t the last hurdle he surmounted. Soon after, the deepest recession that the Malaysian economy had ever been through came in the form of the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis. It was the first time he lost money, about RM1 bn.

Azman has weathered many storms and holds the entire stake in Amcorp group, which deals with financial services, property, information technology and more. The Amcorp group has a stake in Amcorp Properties. Upon his retirement, a succession plan will be in place with two of his children having already replaced him in RCE Capital Bhd and Amcorp Properties Bhd. Some of the company’s most prominent properties in Malaysia include Amcorp Serviced Suites, Amcorp Mall and Amcorp Tower.


Malaysia truly is the land of opportunity for those that have the grit to see things through to the very end. While some that succeed in the property game were born with a silver spoon, others rose up from the humblest of origins.

Regardless of their backgrounds, these big players in the Malaysian property scene share one thing in common, the ability to conquer sometimes seemingly insurmountable obstacles and come out on top in any situation.

So if you think you have what it takes to join the ranks of Malaysia’s property tycoons, take the first step and knowledge up with more great articles from our website

(Written by: Rauf Fadzilla, 25th Sept 2017)


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@admin_ps good sharing