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The Business Empire of Asia’s Ultra-Rich: The Riadys – Part 1

In my latest installment of the Asian Godfather series, I’ll be turning my attention to Mochtar Riady, the patriarch of the Riady family.

The Lippo Group

The Riady family is one of the richest families in Indonesia and has been reported in the media to have a good relationship with former US president, Bill Clinton. Their story started with Mochtar Riady, who was born in east Java (a part of Indonesia) during the late 1920’s. Riady had pursued a career in banking early in his life and got his first banking gig working in Pan Indonesia Bank. His big break however, came when he joined fellow Godfather, Liem Sioe Liong, in managing Bank Central Asia.

While there, Riady grew the bank into the largest private bank in Indonesia. Through mergers and acquisitions, the bank eventually morphed into Bank Lippo. From there, Riady gradually diversified the bank into other sectors and thus came the Lippo Group, a conglomerate in the truest sense.

While Riady worked hard to grow the business, he too has met some severe speed bumps along the way. During the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98, Riady was forced to sell a stake in the bank in order to save it. In 2008, Lippo Bank underwent its latest merger and is now a part of the Malaysian banking giant, CIMB Group.

Today, Mochtar Riady has handed the reins of the Lippo empire to his two sons, James and Stephen. The family’s main Indonesia-listed vehicle is Lippo Karawaci Tbk PT while most of the overseas business is run through Hong Kong. In Singapore, real estate investment trusts such as First REIT (SGX: AW9U) and Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust (SGX: D5IU) are connected to the Lippo Group. The family is also the major shareholder of OUE (SGX: LJ3), a property developer with a S$2 billion market capitalisation that’s listed here.

Just last year, OUE had lost out to Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi when both were bidding to acquire Fraser and Neave (SGX: F99).

Foolish Bottom Line

Although Mochtar Riady got his start in banking, the Riadys are now mainly involved with real estate businesses that span the world. As you might notice later on with a number of other Asian Godfathers, these business tycoons have multiple business interests and have rarely stuck to just their original business. This could be a case of the Asian Godfathers having a mentality that a business is just a medium for generating wealth and so there should not be any heavy sentimental attachment to it.

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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 Stanley Lim doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.