United Under Dr Wee Cho Yaw

wee cho yaw Dr. Wee Cho Yaw, the chairman of United Overseas Bank (SGX: U11), is the richest person in Singapore with a fortune of $5 billion as of March 2013, according to the latest rich list published by Forbes Asia. Dr. Wee is ranked third on Forbes’ list of Singapore’s 40 Richest and 290th on its list of The World Billionaires.

3 Quick Facts about Dr. Wee Cho Yaw

1. Have you heard of United Industrial Corporation Limited (SGX: U06) or United International Securities Limited (SGX: U07)? How about UOL Group Limited (SGX: U14)?  If so, do you know what they all have in common?
Well, Dr. Wee is the Chairman of all these companies .

2. Dr. Wee oversaw UOB’s expansion from a lender with just one branch in Singapore into a regional giant with operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. He is set to pass the baton to his son; Mr. Wee Ee Cheong, after spending almost four decades at the helm of Singapore’s largest bank.

3. Besides his corporate success, Dr. Wee is well recognised for his public service in Singapore. He was awarded the “Public Service Star” in 1971 and named Singapore Businessman of the Year 1990 and 2001. Dr. Wee was also conferred an honorary Doctor of Letters by the National University of Singapore in July 2008.

Apart from his remarkable success in building corporate giants, Dr. Wee stayed true to his belief in the businesses by owning substantial holdings in them. As the businesses grow steadily over the years, the share price followed suit, and Dr. Wee became a multi-billionaire.

Despite his achievements, Dr. Wee is not resting on his laurels. Dr. Wee made the news recently when he went on a buying spree and snapped up shares of his existing holdings (including UIC, UOB, UOL, and UOB-Kay Hian) during a minor correction in the markets.

What we can learn from him

How Dr. Wee amassed his wealth and his approach to investing is somewhat similar to Warren Buffett, the 3rd richest man in the world. He invests in the companies within his circle of competence (finance and properties) when they are trading at affordable prices and holds them.

Dr. Wee also looks at short-term stock market fluctuations as opportunities to invest in companies with good long term prospects, as evident from his recent shares’ purchases as mentioned previously.

As a retail investor, you can do the same thing too. It doesn’t have to be difficult investing in businesses you understand. For ideas on what businesses to invest in, try to look at things from another light the next time you go to work or patronise your favourite shopping mall. You may find the hidden gem that has been overlooked.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice.   Motley Fool Singapore contributor James Yeo doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.