Who Are Asia’s 10 Richest Families?

The film Crazy Rich Asians has smashed box-office records and is the first Hollywood film in 25 years since The Joy Luck Club to feature a predominantly Asian cast.

Overflowing with sights of lavish parties, designer brands and privileged lifestyles, the story of these interesting characters is our glimpse into the lives of super-rich.

But, have you ever wondered about the real Crazy Rich Asians?

Here are Asia’s 10 richest families as listed by Forbes in November 2017.

#10 The Chirathivat Family

Crazy Rich Asians

Chirathivat family from Thailand has an estimated net worth of US$19.3 billion.

The family controls Central Group, Thailand’s biggest mall developer. It is led by Tos Chirathivat, the grandson of the group’s founder Tiang Chirathivat. The group gets more than a quarter of its US$11 billion revenue mainly from Europe and Vietnam.

The company plans to have more than 7,500 stores in Thailand by the year 2022, an increase from its current 5,000 stores. The firm also has a $560 million joint venture with China’s and has set up an e-commerce site, JD Central.

#9 The Sy Family

Crazy Rich Asians

From the Philippines, the Sy family with an estimated net worth of US$20.1 billion takes the ninth spot on the list.

It all started with Henry Sy who began a small shoe store in Malina and transformed his humble shop into mall developer SM Prime.

The Sy family’s SM Investments is the Philippines’ largest retailer with over 200 outlets.

All of Henry’s six children are involved in the company’s management while his grandchildren also play active roles within the family business.

Grandson Howard has also started on a solo venture named StorageMart that is a self-storage company in Makati.

#8 The Cheng Family

Crazy Rich Asians

At eighth place on the list is the Cheng family from China with an estimated net worth of US$22.5 billion.

The late Cheng Yu-Tung, the patriarch of the family passed away in September 2016, four years after placing his eldest son Henry as the chairman and executive director of the family jeweller Chow Tai Fook and their conglomerate of New World.

Henry’s son Adrian heads New World China Land which holds majority of their father’s US$16 billion mainland China properties, while his son Brian worked at the original Chow Tai Fook in Macau and married the boss’s daughter before settling in Hong Kong.

Henry’s daughter Sonia oversees the acquired Rosewood Hotels and hospitality while son Adrian began C Ventures, a company that caters to millennials, while he runs New World.

#7 The Kwek Family

Crazy Rich Asians

The Kwek, or Quek, family from Singapore takes seventh place with an estimated net worth of US$23.3 billion.

The family fortune can be traced back to 1941, when patriarch Kwek Hong Png first founded the company along with his 3 brothers.

Nephew Quek Leng Chan runs the group’s Malaysia dealings while Kwek’s eldest son, Leng Beng ran operations in Singapore before his grandson Sherman took over as chief executive of the family’s City Developments in January 2018.

With more than 15 family members that are in control of the Hong Leong Group, their family-run conglomerate interests range all the way from property to finance.

#6 The Lee (Shau Kee) Family

Crazy Rich Asians

An estimated net worth of US$29 billion lands the Lee family from Hong Kong in sixth place.

Lee Shau Kee, the patriarch of the family who still remains as Henderson Land Development’s chairman is still going strong even after announcing that he wishes to retire gradually.

He first moved to Hong Kong from Guangdong Province in 198 and initially traded in precious currencies and metals.

His youngest son, Martin, vice-chairman of Henderson Land, continues to oversee the family’s real estate business.

Another son, Peter, who is also a vice-chairman, oversees operations in China, while daughter Margaret is also an executive at the company.

The third generation of Lee’s is slated to join the executive ranks with the eldest grandchild Kristine Li looking after the mall business.

#5 The Hartono Family

Crazy Rich Asians

At number five on the list are the Hartono brothers, Robert Budi Hartono and Michael Hartono from Indonesia with an estimated net worth of US$32 billion.

The fortune of the Hartono brothers can be traced back to kretek cigarette manufacturer Djarum that began with his father and is now watched over and ran by Budi’s son Victor.

However, two-thirds of the brother’s fortune stems from their investments from Bank Central Asia after they purchased a stake in the company when the Salims, another wealthy family had lost power of the bank during the 1997 and 1998 Asian economic crisis.

Their family holdings now include prime real-estate in Jakarta and even popular electronic brand Polytron.

#4 The Chearavanont Family

Crazy Rich Asians

Fourth on the list of Asia’s richest families are the Chearavanont family from Thailand with an estimated net worth of US$36.6 billion.

A major leader in the business of livestock and animal feed, the company began when brothers Chia Ek Chor and Choncharoen Chiaravanont opened a shop in 1921 that sold imported seeds from China to local Thai farmers.

The group was led by Chia Ek Chor’s son Dhanin who is the senior chairman of the company. Fortunes are shared with his relatives including his three brothers.

After 48 years in the role of Chairman & CEO, Soopakji, Dhanin’s eldest son was named chairman while his youngest son, Suphachai, became CEO.

The company received a boost of close to US$9 billion due to a value surge partly due to its holdings in Chinese insurer Ping An in 2017 when his shares saw a jump on rising bond yields & incomes.

#3 The Kwok Family

Crazy Rich Asians

The Kwok family from Hong Kong take third place with an estimated net worth of US$40.4 billion.

The co-founder of Sung Hung Kai in 1969, Kwok Tak-Seng eventually set up Sun Hung Kai Properties on his own in 1972.

He had three sons – Walter who now runs his own real estate firm after being ousted by his younger siblings Thomas and Raymond in 2008 who run the company they had all inherited from their father.

Unfortunately, Thomas, the former co-chairman of the Hong-Kong listed developer returned to prison in June 2017 after his final appeal for his sentencing of five years for involvement in a corruption case was rejected even after he was released on bail in July 2016.

Since 2014, Raymond has been the sole chairman of the family business and despite Thomas’s legal troubles has managed to achieve a record breaking US$6.7 billion in sales during his brother’s appeal.

The company has since expanded with close to 60% of its 120 million square feet of properties in China alone.

#2 The Lee (Byung-Chul) Family

Crazy Rich Asians

The title of first runners-up on this list belongs to the Lee family from South Korea.

With an estimated net worth of US$40.8 billion, this family attributes 45% of its riches to globally famed brand, Samsung Electronics.

The late Lee Byung-Chul first began his journey with a trading company in the modest village of Daegu. For close to 80 years, his empire took steps to evolve into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of televisions and smartphones.

The family conglomerate was divided into four entities, Hansol, CJ, Shinsegae and Samsung during the 90’s.

Chairman Lee Kun-Hee, son of founder Lee Byung-Chul has remained bedridden since 2014 after a heart attack while his only son and heir to the family’s legacy, Lee Jae-young who is also known as Jay Y. Lee, has successfully appealed a 5-year prison sentence for his involvement in former South Korean president Park Geun-hye’s political scandal.

The business is currently led by the second and third generations who collectively manage to rake in more than US$300 billion in annual sales from not just electronics but paper, food and even entertainment.

#1 The Ambani Family

Crazy Richest Asians

At an estimated net-worth of US$44.8 billion, the Ambani family from India tops the list of the richest families in the whole of Asia.

It all began with Dhirubhai Ambani, who used to work at a Yemen gas station as he traded spices and yarn. This was before his company, the Reliance Textile Industries, launched the popular Vimal textile brand in his homeland of India.

Dhirubhai had two sons. Unfortunately, after their father’s death in 2002, the siblings had a falling out that has since left their empire divided.

The elder son, Mukesh, is the managing director of Reliance Industries. He made his empire on two of the world’s highly sought-after natural resources, oil and gas.

The younger son, Anil, is the chairman of Reliance Group which came into existence in June 2005 after a demerger from Reliance Industries Limited.

The youngest, third generation continues to dabble and is involved in the family business as well.

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