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Tan Sri Robert Kuok Hock Nien (simplified Chinese: 郭鹤年; traditional Chinese: 郭鶴年; pinyin: Guō Hènián) (born October 6, 1923, in Johor Bahru, Johor), is an influential Malaysian Chinese businessman. According to Forbes his net worth is estimated to be around $10 billion on May 2008, making him the richest person in Southeast Asia.[1]

Robert Kuok Hock Nien is media shy and discreet; most of his businesses are privately held by him or his family. Apart from a multitude of enterprises in Malaysia, his companies have investments in many countries throughout Asia. His business interests range from sugarcane plantations (Perlis Plantations Bhd), sugar refinery, flour milling, animal feed, oil and mining to finance, hotels, properties, trading and freight (International Shipping Corporation, Transmile Group) and publishing.


Kuok's father arrived in Malaya from Fujian, China at the beginning of the 20th century, and Kuok was the youngest of three brothers, born on October 6, 1923, in Johor Bahru. He claims he began in business as an office boy, and later started a business with relatives' support. In fact, upon graduation, he worked in the grains department of Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsubishi between 1942 and 1945

Robert Kuok Hock Nien senior died in 1948, and Kuok and his two brothers founded Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd in 1949, trading agricultural commodities. Under the new post-colonial government, Kuok began in the sugar business alongside the government. In 1961, he made a coup by buying cheap sugar from India before the prices shot up. He continued to invest heavily in sugar refinery, controlled 80% of the Malaysian sugar market with production of 1.5 million tonnes, equivalent to 10% of world production, and so earned his nickname "Sugar King of Asia".

In 1971, he built the first Shangri-La Hotel, in Singapore. His foray into Hong Kong property was in 1977, when he acquired a plot of land on the newly reclaimed Tsim Sha Tsui East waterfront, where he built the second hotel, the Kowloon Shangri-La. In 1993, his Kerry Group acquired a 34.9% stake in the South China Morning Post from Murdoch's News Corporation.

His companies have investments in many countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Mainland China, Indonesia, Fiji and Australia. Businesses in China include 10 bottling companies for Coca Cola, ownership of the Beijing World Trade Centre.

His political influence is attested by his having been selected as one of the advisors on Hong Kong's future in the runup to the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong, and his minority stake in CITIC Pacific. He was also instrumental in conveying information and setting up the meetings between Malaysia and China governments leading to full diplomatic cross recognition of the two countries.

Robert Kuok Hock Nien has married twice and has eight children. He officially retired from the Kerry Group on April 1, 1993. Nowadays, Kuok Khoon Ean one of Robert's sons, handles most of the day-to-day operations of his businesses. He is currently residing in Hong Kong.



BORN: Oct. 6, 1923, in Johor Baru, Malaya

EDUCATION: Raffles College, Singapore

FAMILY: Married twice, eight children

Robert Kuok Hock Nien is reputedly the richest man in Malaysia. While handing more authority to the next generation, Kuok remains the man in charge, and he is using the tough times to train his successors.

Kuok�s Youth

Robert Kuok Hock Nien was born in 1923 in Johor Bahru, the son of a well-off commodities trader. His ancestral town was in Fujian province, China.

An old boy of Raffles College in Singapore, he was a schoolmate of Singapore's

Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew in the late 40s. After graduation, he helped out at his father�s company, and founded the Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd in 1949.

Acquiring the Mastery of Business

After founding the Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd, Kuok first started investing in the sugar refinery business. In 1957, Malaya achieved independence from its English colonial master. Kuok immediately seized the opportunity to swiftly establish his business network throughout Malaysia, based on an end-to-end (raw materials Ú processing Ú distribution) business model. He also mastered the intricacies of commodities trading in London in the 50s. By the 70s, he was known as the "Sugar King" as he controlled up to 10percent of the global sugar market.

After proclaiming success in the sugar refinery business, he quickly moved into other businesses, and established the largest flour mill in Malaysia.

Since the 60s, Robert Kuok Hock Nien has relied heavily on his gentlemanly way of doing
business to become a mover and shaker in industry. He was fast in spotting
opportunities from at home and abroad, and used his excellent connections
with government and industry to rapidly scale up his empire. In this way, he forged many strategic alliances with other parties. With the government, he joint hands to form a shipping company, and later built hotels, office buildings and convention centres. With partners, he founded banks. Thus, through business savvy, open-mindedness and his links, he has diversified into almost everything under the sun. Apart from a plethora of enterprises in Malaysia, he operates in many other countries and regions like Singapore, Thailand, China, Indonesia, Fiji and Australia. His business interests span from sugarcane plantations, sugar refinery, four milling, animal feed, oil and mining to finance, hotels, properties, trading and freight.

Robert Kuok Hock Nien currently controls the Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Chain, Kerry Group, Perlis Plantations Bhd, and dozens of other companies. In the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, under family-owned Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd, he commands a market worth of RM2.1 billion (as of 1997), even though his publicly-traded holdings worldwide is probably worth more than 10 times that.

Secret of His Success

When asked this, Kuoks aides will invariably say: Mr Kuok is a true gentleman. He has the power to make his opponents yield willingly, and is a genuinely amicable man. And he makes it a personal effort to ensure that all his employees embrace this �gentlemanly� way of conducting business.

Kuok�s gentlemanly ways are also well-recognised among his peers. He has
many a time bailed out his contemporaries in distress, and furthermore, he
does not seek the limelight, preferring to live a life of thrift and simplicity, winning him accolades and admiration near and far.

Robert Kuok Hock Nien made his fortune thanks to a sugar-trading monopoly in 1960s Malaysia. Today, his Kerry Group is a huge investor in China—with stakes in everything from hotels to Coca-Cola bottling plants to office space. Kuok has a reputation for being soft-spoken and polite; word has it that the habitual smoker once asked the crew of his own plane if he could light up.


Legendary Malaysian-Chinese tycoon Robert Kuok keeps a low profile when it comes to press interviews. Malaysian TV scooped one in 1994 but it was two years before it was broadcast and subsequent requests have been brushed aside. Kuok's handlers believe there is nothing wrong with keeping their 73-year-old boss under wraps. They point out that he built his empire through vision, tenacity, risk-taking and guanxi ­ the connections that ease business transactions. A high public profile is neither necessary nor desirable. "Mystique helps," says Joanne Watkins, one of his chief PR aides. "It creates great curiosity about him."
What did come over in the TV interview was Kuok's aversion to pompous or romantic descriptions of his business career. Asked reverently about his "sense of mission" as a great entrepreneur, he bluntly replied that "the most important thing was to make money". And what was the secret of successful business leadership? "Like Genghis Khan in his best days, you have to share the spoils of victory," he replied.
Over the last half-century, Kuok has diversified from a base of commodities trading into beverages, industrial manufacturing, real estate, shipping, investment and insurance, the media and ­ perhaps most visibly ­ hotels. His Shangri-La hotels form the biggest, most profitable chain of luxury lodgings in Asia.

Kuok's publicly traded holdings are worth at least $7.5 billion. But some analysts reckon that's only about a third of the total. "I'm confident that Kuok's private holdings represent at least two-thirds of his wealth," says John Mulcahy, managing director of WI Carr (Far East), in Hong Kong.


Robert Kuok Hock Nien's riches seem set to grow even more spectacularly as China prepares to take over in Hong Kong this year. Leading overseas Chinese businessmen have offered themselves ­ sometimes with unseemly enthusiasm ­ as intermediaries between the mainland authorities and their future subjects. Among these mega-millionaire supporters of Beijing none has higher standing with mainland officials than Kuok. He began investing heavily in China well before other overseas entrepreneurs, and went ahead with his projects even when political events turned the Beijing authorities into temporary pariahs abroad. Robert Kuok Hock Nien had a neat line on this sort of situation in his TV interview. "A nimble businessman gets very wealthy when there are political developments," he says. "In every crisis, big fortunes are made."
"Back in the early 1980s," says Mulcahy, "when other overseas Chinese businessmen were currying favour with Beijing by setting up foundations building hospitals and schools in their home towns, Kuok was already making real investments." And when foreign entrepreneurs and visitors steered clear in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, Kuok continued to finance his $480-million investment in Beijing's World Trade Center, even though rooms in his luxury Shangri-La hotel at the Center's hub were going begging for $30 a night. "The Chinese remember that," says Robert Hutchinson, director of marketing for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. "Obviously, it gives him a competitive advantage."

So it's unsurprising that nobody gets better locations in China for his buildings than Kuok. By 1998, 14 Shangri-La hotels will be operating on the choicest downtown acreage in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as in lesser-known cities such as Dalian in the north-east and Wuhan to the west. Besides choice locations, Robert Kuok Hock Nien has unparalleled political clout on his side. Other entrepreneurs worry that their projects in China will be slowed by bureaucratic inertia. "With Robert Kuok that isn't a concern," says Rohan Dalziell, investment analyst at ING Baring Securities (Hong Kong). "One of the beauties of investing in his Shangri-La hotels is the certainty they will be on as fast a track as possible."
In China ­ with this sort of influence ­ a high-priority construction job backed by local and national authorities can literally be rammed through. As David Hayden, managing director of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, puts it: "It's done by edict. 'We're relocating you tomorrow. The bulldozers will be through in the morning.' You'd have to go back to Baron Haussmann in [19th-century] Paris to have seen that sort of thing in the west."

Capitalizing on politics
Perhaps because a grateful Beijing government gives such precedence to his projects, Kuok claims not to have encountered the corruption that many businesspeople complain is endemic. "Wherever I go [in China]," he said in his TV interview, "I find the quality of leadership is getting better all the time ­ the norms of integrity, the [numbers of] Chinese willing to serve their nation with no hope of personal gain." Kuok went on to applaud the Chinese Communist party as "the backbone of the nation", and predicted that as long as the party kept its unity, China would "only go from strength to strength".
Politics has rarely been a barrier to Kuok's business dealings. He was born in 1923 in Johor Baharu on the tip of the Malayan peninsula just over the strait from the island of Singapore. His father, an immigrant to the British colony from southern China's Fujian province, was a comfortably-off commodities trader who sent all three of his sons to private, British-run schools. At Raffles College in Singapore, one of Kuok's fellow students was Lee Kuan Yew, the future prime minister of Singapore.

Robert Kuok Hock Nien's education was curtailed by Japan's invasion of Singapore in 1942, but he turned the occupation to his advantage by getting a job with a Mitsubishi trading company ­ and learning fluent Japanese. After the war, Kuok remained aloof from the Malayan independence movement. When his younger brother, a prominent Communist guerrilla, was ambushed by British colonial forces in 1952 and fatally wounded, Kuok moved to London to master the intricacies of commodities trading.
It was as a commodities broker that Kuok first gained prominence. By the early 1970s he was known as the Sugar King because from time to time he controlled up to 10% of the world sugar market. His commercial skills took him into new ventures, including sugar plantations and refineries in Malaysia, where he enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the domestic market. He then diversified into palm oil, chemicals, shipping, real estate, and hotels throughout south-east Asia.

Robert Kuok Hock Nien ( Cina Ringkas : ??? ; Cina Tradisional : ??? ; pinyin : Guo Hènián) (lahir 6 Oktober 1923 , di Johor Bahru , Johor ), merupakan ahli perniagaan Cina Malaysia . Merujuk kepada Forbes nilai kekayaannya dianggarkan di sekitar $8 bilion pada tahun 2007, menjadikan beliau lelaki terkaya di Malaysia dan seluruh Asia Tenggara .


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