Reliving The Legacy Of Haw Par

Haw Par logo Whenever most of us hear the name Haw Par, the thing that comes to their minds will be the infamous Haw Par Villa – a theme park to teach and preserve traditional Chinese values in the past. While it was originally built in 1937 by the Burmese brothers who developed “Tiger Balm”, the Singapore Tourism Board took charge of it in 1988. The brothers founded the company, Haw Par Brothers Ltd, which has become today Har Par Corporation.

From its humble beginnings as the creator and maker of Tiger Balm, the Haw Par Corporation (SGX: H02) today has grown over the years after its listing on Singapore Exchange since 1969. Headquartered in Singapore, the group has expanded its operations into 4 segments – Healthcare, Leisure, Property and Investment.

The healthcare products are manufactured and marketed under their various established brands such as Tiger Balm and Kwan Loong. The flagship brand, Tiger Balm is an ointment used to invigorate the body as well as to relieve aches and pains. Under the leisure business, Haw Par owns and operates 2 Oceanariums – Underwater World Singapore in Sentosa and Underwater World Pattaya in Thailand.

But did you know…

1) The name “Haw Par” is actually derived from combining the names of the founding brothers Boon Haw and Boon Par. The humble beginning of Haw Par began when their father left China for Rangoon (Myanmar) to set up his own physician practice and apothecary shop where he would make and sell his special ointment which would later turn out to be the starting point of “Tiger Balm”.

2) The origins of the “Tiger Balm” formula can be traced back to the times of the Chinese emperors who sought relief for aches and pains from the stresses of court hearings. As the young son of an herbalist, Aw Chu Kin (father of the founding brothers) breathed new life into the ancient recipe. The sons later took over and perfected their late father’s recipe together, coming out with the first version of Tiger Balm – Ten Thousand Golden Oils, a panacea for all ills.

3) Even though Haw Par was passed down through the generations, it is now Mr Wee Cho Yaw, Chairman of UOB, who sits on Haw Par Corporation’s Chairman seat.  After a failed attempt to expand operations, the company collapsed under the leadership of the Aw family, and was taken over by the United Overseas Bank.

4) While Tiger Balm might be synonymous with the name Haw Par, in fact, it only contributes around 15% of its total profits. According to its annual report 2012, the bulk of the profits (61.8%) come from substantial investments in United Overseas Bank Limited, UOL Group Limited and United Industrial Corporation Limited. These investments have also provided a stable source of recurring dividend income through the years.

Foolish Bottom-line

Through its two stable Health and Leisure businesses, the free cash flow generated can provide Haw Par with the financial muscle to venture into properties and stock investments. Haw Par seems to be doing a good job utilizing the cash as the profits have been steadily increasing.