Monday, October 1, 2012

Ng Teng Fong Family - Singapore's 40 Richest

Ng Teng Fong, born in 1928  in the small rustic prefecture-level city of Putian, located within the eastern province of Fugian, People’s Republic of China was never a stranger to hard work.  As a boy and eldest of eleven siblings he learned early on the value of perseverance.  His parents moved the family to Singapore when Ng was at the tender age of six to pursue a family owned soya sauce factory and grocerry shop.  He worked arduously to contribute to the success of his family’s business as a factory hand and repairman of bicycles for years and as the eldest son, was expected to carry on the family legacy.  Ng Teng Fong however had other aspirations, which to the chagrin of his parents did not involve the soya sauce business.

In 1950, Ng set out to realize his goal of becoming a business mogul in his own right.  What he lacked in formal education he made up for in desire, ambition and internal fortitude.  After a failed provision shop venture, Ng was able to rebound acquiring enough funds to establish his own property development company in 1960.  Under the capable tutelage of billionaire Eliya Thamby, the Far East Organization (FEO) was born and all of Ng’s dreams were finally realized.

A billion dollars is quite an outstanding net worth for any family let alone one person.  The astronomical figure has easily made Ng Teng Fong named number one in Forbes Asia while he was alive. And although rich beyond comprehension, his lifestyle was a complete oxymoron to his financial worth.  Not one to indulge in the flamboyant and extravagant self-deserving life that most billionaires thrust themselves into; Fong lived a rich but humble life.  Although one of the largest real estate developers in Hong Kong, Fong lived in the same house for over thirty years and was known for packing his lunches.  The simplicity of his lifestyle was in direct contract contrast to the fortune he had accomplished.  Perhaps his simple lifestyle was because of his humble means that he was raised, or being in the position of poverty as a young man may have been the reason for his modest living.

As the first of its achievements FEO developed a housing community comprised of 72 terrace houses at Jalan Pacheli in Serangoon Gardens, in Singapore.  These homes, as part of the now exclusive Singapore community, sold for $20,000 each in 1962.  Following closely on the heels of this success Ng ambitiously threw his hat into the hotel arena constructing a $5.5 million Singapore Forum Hotel on Orchard Road.  The first in a very illustrious portfolio of luxury residences the Forum Hotel boasted an Asian inspired experiential experience that is still coveted today.

With the success of that development, the company ventured off into hotels.  From there, his developments continued to flourish, in hotels, residential developments and other endeavors.  And although he was on a steady slope of success, he did nearly go bankrupt when a local institution withdrew credit facilities.  However, with creative financing strategies, he rebounded and maintained his successful and ever growing business in the long run.

Ng established many companies throughout his career and in addition, he would purchase large land opportunities for retain and commercial developments.  He was also aggressive at purchasing land during the property crash in the early 1980s, which later proved to be an intelligent business move. His investments and smart business practices sustained his companies and businesses through downturns.  He became known for his prudence in property and acquiring new land.

After several decades of diversification and expansion Ng Teng Fong had launched his company into the forefront and by 1994 his portfolio was estimated at HK$60 billion in property holdings in Hong Kong.  His expansion endeavors dubbed him the “King of Orchard Road” as he continued to exercise dominion over Singapore’s prime shopping district with the construction of Lucky Plaza in 1978, Orchard Plaza in 1981, Far East Place in 1983 and Claymore Plaza in 1994.

As his net worth continued to ascend into the higher billions, Ng remained grounded.  The Sino Group’s famous developments include the Conrad Hong Kong grand Royal Pacific hotels, Central Plaza in Wanchai and the Centrium in the Central district. He became one of Hong Kong’s largest real estate developers and one of the largest landholders.

Ng Teng Fong’s financial savvy coupled with his aggressive acquisition practices preserved the health of FEO even through several economic downturns.  The patriarch Ng Teng Fong, died at the age of 82 on February 2, 2010 of a cerebral hemorrhage and is survived by his wife, Tan Kim Choo, his two  sons Richard Ng and Philip Ng and seven other children. At his death, Ng was at an estimate 7.8 billion dollars.
Today the estate is estimated to have about a net worth of $9.2 billion with the number one spot among the 40 richest families in Singapore.   His true rags to riches story is one that only dream of accomplishing.  As Forbes Asia richest man, his inspirational professional journey led him to develop over 1,000 properties.  His sons carry on the family business.

Ng Teng Fong left a legacy of hard work, financial prowess and dedication.  His two eldest sons have equipped with their father’s financial savvy and have continued along the same successful current of business.  Philip Ng is an MIT graduate and manages Singapore's interest (FEO) while brother, Richard Ng manages the Hong Kong side of business (Sino Group). Together, they are the coexcutors of their father's estate.  A hospital to be built in Jurong will be named Ng Teng Fong hospital.

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