Singapore’s ‘king’ of real estate
Meet Singapore’s power siblings Robert and Philip Ng. According to Bloomberg, the duo has an estimated net worth of $9.8 billion. They ranked No. 131 in the Forbes list of richest on a worldwide scale.
Their combined net worth used to be $12.8 billion, but due to the sluggish real estate industry in Hong Kong and Singapore, the siblings’ fortune significantly dropped. They countered property downturn then by investing $1.4 billion in several Australian ventures.
The siblings control Singapore’s Far East Organisation and Hong Kong’s Sino Group and have amassed a portfolio of 750 properties across different asset classes covering residential, hospitality, retail, commercial and industrial sectors.
The Far East group is Singapore’s largest private property developer and produces one in every six houses sold to the public. For Filipinos who frequent Singapore, it is worth mentioning that the group owns The Fullerton Hotel and other landmark properties.
As part of my advocacy, I have started documenting inspiring family business success stories in Asia hoping it would spur readers to chase their dreams and eventually become one of them. Nothing is impossible to attain in this world if one puts all of one’s passion, determination, and hard work in his or her chosen business.
So how did the family business started? Robert and Philip are sons of real estate tycoon Ng Teng Fong, a migrant from Putian, Fujian province, China who came to Singapore in 1934 with his family when he was six.
Ng Teng Fong founded the Far East Organization and steadily expanded in Hong Kong using Sino Land. According to Wikipedia, he had a reputation for leading a frugal and miserly lifestyle despite his fortune.
At its peak, the Far East group controlled at least a quarter of Singapore’s housing market but Ng continued to live in the same house for 30 years.
At the time of his death in 2009, Ng was reportedly the richest person in Singapore with an estimated net worth of US$5.5 billion. Although the next generation Ng brothers’ wealth was passed on to them by their father, their story of expansion and growth while staying united and committed is nonetheless impressive and worth sharing as it is fraught with values handed over to them by the founder.
In an online article by Melissa Yeo, she attempts to dissect the life story of the Ng brothers and discovers compelling values common among highly successful family owned businesses.
Among the few ones worth reflecting include having inspiring and successful parents; sharing the workload among siblings; diversifying investments; embracing harmony, which breeds prosperity; and not forgetting your roots.
In the end, values inspire people to do things that are sometimes difficult, to make commitments that require discipline, and to follow certain behaviors that will redound to the benefit of the greater good. An enduring commitment to values is the greatest strength and competitive advantage family ownership can bring to any enterprise.
For the Ng brothers, they have continued the legacy of their father by embracing unity and harmony and growing the business, thus making it one of the most successful family-owned businesses in Asia today.
Prof. Enrique Soriano is a National Agora Awardee for Marketing Excellence, an Asean Family Business Advisor, book author and executive director of consulting group, W+B Strategic Advisory. He has close to three decades of real estate experience and is the Program Director for Real Estate at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.
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