According to the latest Forbes Singapore Rich List (2019), Singapore’s richest person is a former mainland Chinese Zhang Yong with a net worth of US$13.8 billion.
Zhang is the founder of Haidilao International, running a chain of hotpot restaurants. He was featured previously among China’s richest and is now a naturalized Singapore citizen.
Zhang replaces real estate siblings Robert and Philip Ng of Far East Organization to top the list. The Top 10 richest in Singapore are:
- Zhang Yong; US$13.8 billion – Founder of Haidilao International
- Robert and Philip Ng; US$12.1 billion – Far East Organization
- Eduardo Saverin; US$10.6 billion – One of the co-founders of Facebook
- Goh Cheng Liang; US$9.5 billion – 39% stake in Japan’s Nippon Paint Holdings
- Kwek Leng Beng; US$8.8 billion – Executive chairman of Singapore’s Hong Leong Group
- Wee Cho Yaw; US$6.6 billion – Chairman of the United Overseas Bank
- Khoo family; US$6.5 billion – Estate of late Khoo Teck Puat who founded Maybank
- Kwee brothers; US$5.7 billion – Pontiac Land Group, a privately held luxury real estate developer and hotel owner based in Singapore
- Kuok Khoon Hong; US$3 billion – Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Wilmar International
- Choo Chong Ngen; US$2.95 billion – Founder and executive chairman of Hotel 81
Despite global uncertainties and a lower growth forecast for Singapore, the collective wealth of Singapore’s 50 richest was up more than 12 per cent to US$130 billion (S$180.5 billion), Forbes reported.
Haidilao’s outlets climb to 466 worldwide, utmost service for customers its motto
Zhang’s hotpot chain Haidilao raised US$963 million in its Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) in Sep 2018.
According to its latest fiscal report in Mar this year, Haidilao added some 200 new restaurants, boosting its worldwide total to 466, helped push the company’s revenue up 59.5% year-on-year to 16.97 billion yuan (US$2.52 billion) for the year ended Dec 31, 2018. However, staff costs also climbed 60.8% from 3.12 billion yuan to 5.02 billion yuan, 29.6% of total revenue. Net profit surged 60.1% to 1.65 billion yuan.
Haidilao is said to have paid a lot of attention to its customer service. When a diner queues at an often-packed Haidilao, staff may provide free nail polish or a hand massage, to help kill time and improve customer experience. If you dine alone at Haidilao, staff may put a fluffy doll beside you to give you some company.
Haidilao has also adopted a special “apprentice mechanism” which allows restaurant branch heads to train their own apprentices, and receive bonuses if their trainee is promoted to head of a branch. The mechanism aims to motivate staff and improve operation quality in new restaurants.
Still, problems exist. In 2018, one of its branches at Clarke Quay was suspended by NEA over unsanitary food handling practices. When the media first queried, a company representative said the Clarke Quay branch was closed for “renovation”. But later, Wang Jinping, general manager of Haidilao Singapore disclosed that the branch was suspended followed two inspections by NEA.
Media reported that the Clarke Quay branch was fined $800 by NEA for accumulating 12 demerit points over the handling of food with bare hands and the selling of unclean food. In one incident, NEA found that a serving of beancurd did not pass its hygiene tests.
Singapore has one of the lowest tax cap and no capital gain/inheritance tax
In Singapore, there is no capital gains tax or inheritance tax; dividend and interest income from one’s investment are also exempt from personal income tax. Property taxes are relatively low and only taxed if the individual buys and sells property with a profit-seeking motive, or deemed to be trading in properties. Rental income is taxed at one’s marginal tax rate.