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Peter Lim in 2016
|Education||University of Western Australia|
|Net worth||US$2.5 billion (February 2019)|
Cherie Lim (m. 2003)
|Children||2 (with ex-wife Venus Teo Geok Fong)|
Peter Lim (born 1953) is a Singaporean business magnate, entrepreneur, philanthropist and investor. Lim, who was one of Singapore's leading stockbrokers, is now a private investor. He is an astute and diversified investor who looks long-term and has invested in sectors ranging from palm oil to medicine. In 2019, Forbes ranked him as the 10th richest person in Singapore with a net worth of US$2.5 billion.
Lim was born in very modest circumstances. Despite his economic conditions and having to grow up in a difficult neighbourhood, he never made an excuse to work hard. Finding it hard to get into a respectable University because of his economic background, he put himself through the University of Western Australia, in Perth, by working as a taxi driver, cook and waiter, among other odd jobs, and eventually graduated with a degree in finance and accounting.
As a philanthropist, Lim focuses on education and sports. Remembering his own experiences growing up, he has made generous donations to help those who are capable and driven but lack the financial resources. To date, the most high profile Project is the Singapore Olympic Foundation – Peter Lim Scholarship fund, which aims to support young local talents. Following his contribution of S$10 million when the scholarship was established in 2010, Lim donated another S$10 million in 2019. Lim also committed a separate S$20 million to start a community project focused on helping children from less privileged backgrounds.Many donations to numerous other charities have not been profiled.
Given Lim’s prominent background, wealth and involvement in philanthropy, he is known to fight at all cost to protect his credibility. Lim responds aggressively to clear false allegations and to stymie frivolous claims. In 2009, Lim won the biggest libel payout in Singaporean history in the Raffles Town Club saga.
Lim married Cherie Lim in 2003. He has two children with ex-wife Venus Teo Geok Fong.
The son of a fishmonger, Lim and his seven siblings grew up in a two-bedroom government flat in the Bukit Ho Swee public housing estate. Lim learnt a lot growing up in this neighbourhood, which was notorious for its lawlessness then. Lim completed his secondary school education at the Raffles Institution. After National Service, he went to Perth to study at the University of Western Australia. To fund his university education, Lim worked part-time doing odd jobs as a taxi driver, cook and waiter. It was one of these jobs – in the Australian fast-food chain Red Rooster – that opened his eyes to how business was done. Lim studied how they started, how they grew, and how they scaled up. In university, he further honed his instincts and skills as an investor. He graduated with a degree in accounting and finance and first worked as an accountant. He did some tax consultancy before going into stocks.
In the early 1990s, Lim invested about US$10 million in a start-up palm-oil company, Wilmar. By the second half of the decade, he had written off that investment. Then, the Indonesian currency fell from 2,500 rupiah against the US dollar (the exchange rate when he invested in Wilmar) to 16,000 rupiah. Due to the riots and instability in Indonesia at that time, there was no way of cashing out the assets. Stability was gradually restored in a few years. Businessman Robert Kuok decided to inject his Malaysian palm oil operations into Wilmar in 2007. In response to a 2006 FDA ruling mandating the labelling of trans fatty acids on the Nutrition Facts label, food manufacturers began eliminating trans fats from their products and began substituting them with palm oil. Imports to the United States alone increased by nearly 60%. The increased use of biofuels, during the period of high oil prices also contributed to demand. In 2010, Lim cashed out at the peak of commodity prices and sold his Wilmar shares for US$1.5 billion.
Known as the “Remisier King” due to his success in stocks, Lim explains that while there was an element of luck, it was also because he created a role for himself as a “one man merchant bank” in the M&A space in Indonesia in the late 80s. He became indispensable to both retail and high net worth investors.
Lim quit the broking business in 1996 and became a private investor. He was able to escape the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis as he had liquidated most of his stocks and was holding cash.
In June 2010 the Singapore Olympic Foundation (SOF) set up the SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship with a S$10 million donation from Lim. The gift remains the single largest donation in Singapore from an individual towards sports development. The driving force behind the Scholarship is the desire to ensure that no promising young athlete, committed to pursuing his sporting dreams, should be hampered by financial considerations. In 2019, Lim further pledged to continue supporting young local athletes for another 10 years from 2021 – 2030 by donating another S$10 million to the SOF-Peter Lim Scholarship. Since the inception of the scholarship, 2642 student-athletes have received scholarships amounting to $7.2 million.
Lim further committed a separate $20 million to start a new community project focused on helping children from less privileged backgrounds, with the aim of helping them reach their potential.
In 2014, Lim also endowed Nanyang Technological University with S$3 million to fund a professorship in peace studies at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies to protect and promote harmony in Singapore.
Lim, by principle, will not be taken advantage of by individuals who are out for his money. He has spent vast amounts in legal fees to clear false allegations and thwart frivolous claims in order to protect his credibility at all cost. The most prominent case was the Raffles Town Club saga. Lim, a former consultant to Raffles Town Club, launched a libel suit against Mr Lin Jian Wei and Ms Margaret Tung – who took over the club in 2001 – for defamatory remarks they had made in a statement to settle a separate lawsuit brought by unhappy club members. In the statement sent out late in 2005, Mr. Lin and Ms. Tung suggested that the club's financial difficulties were due to mismanagement by the original directors and management, one of whom was Lim. Although the High Court dismissed the defamation lawsuit, Lim did not relent and appealed. The appellate court subsequently ruled in Lim's favour and ordered the biggest libel payout in Singaporean history. He doubled the $220,000 award he received and donated it to the Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund – an educational charity. On separate occasions in August 2016 and October 2017, Lim filed police reports over several scams that misused his name. These include get-rich quick scams (in programmes and cryptocurrency etc.) with his purported “endorsement”, as well as several fake Facebook accounts claiming to be Lim’s official account.
- Jetley, Neerja. "How Singapore Billionaire Peter Lim Makes Money From Thin Air". Forbes.
- "Peter Lim". Forbes.