Kuok Khoon Hong

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Kuok Khoon Hong (simplified Chinese: 郭孔丰; traditional Chinese: 郭孔豐; pinyin: Guō Kǒng Fēng; born c. 1949[1]) is a Singaporean business magnate, entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Wilmar International, having built it into Asia's leading agribusiness and the "world's largest palm oil trader". He is also the Chairman of Perennial Real Estate Holdings Ltd. He has an estimated net worth of $2.4 billion as of March 2019.[2]

Career[edit]

Kuok earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the National University of Singapore, and began his career in 1973 trading soft commodities at Kuok Oils and Grains. He eventually became Managing Director of the business, and developed the Pasir Gudang Edible Oils refining complex in Johor, followed by China's first edible oil refinery, South Seas Oils and Fats.[3]

In 1991, he left the Kuok Group to start Wilmar, with Martua Sitorus soon after coming on board as a co-founder.[4] Starting as a small commodities trading company with S$2m in seed capital from the mortgage of his family home, and further seed funding obtained from Kuok Hock Swee and Sons, his father's investment company. Wilmar grew rapidly from the outset, with initial growth in the Indonesian edible oil market, followed up with development of Sumatran oil palm plantations and Indonesian edible oil refineries. A large expansion into edible oil refining in mainland China, and a joint venture with the Adani Group in India subsequently placed it in leading positions within Asia's largest consumer edible oil markets. In 1994, a meeting with the legendary then-chairman of ADM, Dwayne Andreas, resulted in a US$30m investment into the company after the first meeting, and ADM coming on board as a long term strategic partner.

In 2006, Wilmar International launched an Initial Public Offering on the Singapore Stock Exchange with a capitalisation of S$2.38Bn. In 2007, after a 16-year estrangement, he agreed with his uncle Robert Kuok to merge the Kuok Group's edible oil, trading and oil palm plantation assets into Wilmar in return for a 31% stake in the company. The merger resulted in the unification of Kuok's previous early career contributions to the Kuok Group with the rapidly growth of Wilmar International led by him and Martua Sitorus since 1991.

Kuok's family investment vehicle HPRY Holdings acquired the Aviva Tower in the City of London in 2011 in a joint purchase with Martua Sitorus valued at £290m. The property subsequently received planning approval by the City of London for redevelopment into the Eric Parry designed 'Trellis', slated to be at 1000 ft the tallest building in the City and the second tallest building in Western Europe.[1]

Besides holding stakes in music, media and biotechnology businesses, HPRY is a substantial shareholder in Perennial Real Estate Holdings, which is a developer of commercial mixed use integrated developments and healthcare projects in China. It owns several iconic properties in Singapore including CHIJMES, the Capitol and AXA Tower. HPRY was a seed/angel round investor in SEA Ltd, a SouthEast Asian gaming and internet unicorn listed on the NYSE, whose co-founder Ye Gang was a Wilmar employee at the time the business was created.

Personal life[edit]

Kuok was born in the seaside village of Mersing in Johor, Malaysia, the second of four children of Kuok Hock Swee and Tan Sek Meng. His father was a cousin of Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok.[5] He was educated at Sri Mersing Primary, St Joseph's School and the English College, Johor Bahru.

His father, Kuok Hock Swee, had arrived in then British Malaya from Foochow in Southern China at the age of 18, eventually setting up a provision store in Mersing that he expanded into a thriving business distributing foodstuffs along the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia. This was subsequently merged with the Kuok Group in exchange for an equity stake in Robert Kuok's rapidly expanding business which by then included the first ShangriLa Hotel in Singapore.

The Kuok family traces its ancestry to the 8th century Tang Dynasty general Guo Ziyi, whose descendants included several famous generals under Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. Guo Ziyi was notably mentioned by the Nestorian Christians (known as the Church of the East) as perhaps the earliest high ranking patron of the Christian Church in Tang Dynasty China.

Kuok is married with four children - 3 sons and 1 daughter.[1] His second son, Kuok Meng Ru, is a Singapore-based music industry entrepreneur and investor, who has launched the cloud-based music creation platform BandLab Technologies, and acquired the Asian music retail chain Swee Lee[6] and a 49% stake in Rolling Stone Magazine.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "#6 Kuok Khoon Hong". Forbes. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Kuok Khoon Hong
  3. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=11517962&capId=877757&previousCapId=879147&previousTitle=Gamuda%2520Bhd
  4. ^ Chanyaporn Chanjaroen; William Mellor (February 1, 2013). "Billionaire Kuok Says His Empire Can Last 'Generations'". Bloomberg.
  5. ^ Mahathir's 94-year-old top adviser rekindles China connections
  6. ^ "Kuok Meng Ru and His Sweet New Version of Swee Lee". Prestige Online - Society’s Luxury Authority. Retrieved 2017-12-27.