The Business Empire of Asia’s Ultra-Rich: The Lee Foundation – Part 2

Previously, I had looked into the history of Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Lee Kong Chian. His entrepreneurial drive had eventually led to his family becoming the largest shareholder of Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (SGX: O39), a relationship which still holds true today. His philanthropic spirit led him to create the Lee Foundation (also a big shareholder of OCBC), a wealthy organisation that participates actively in many charitable causes in Asia.

Despite the wealth and good deeds the Lee Foundation has to its name, it’s still somewhat unheard of by the general public. The fact that the foundation does not even have a website does not help in generating awareness either.

But, if one is observant enough, Lee Kong Chian’s influence can still be felt even today through the numerous buildings and organisations named after him. For instance, there’s the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and Lee Kong Chian Lecture Theatre that are both in Nanyang Technological University; the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library in the National Library of Singapore; and the Lee Kong Chian School of Business in Singapore Management University.

Businesses related to the Lee Foundation   

Besides a sizable land bank in Malaysia, the Lee Foundation also holds interests in oil palm and pineapple plantations in the country too.

In Singapore, besides OCBC, the foundation also has interests in other publicy-listed companies like Great Eastern Holdings (SGX: G07) and Singapore Press Holdings (SGX: T39).

Through OCBC and Great Eastern, the Lee Foundation was even one of the larger shareholders of Fraser and Neave (SGX: F99) before both companies sold their interests to Thai billionaire Mr. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi

OCBC is the second largest bank in Singapore and has been recognised as one of the world’s safest banks on numerous occasions. Recently, the bank had made a S$6.2 billion offer to buyout Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank (SEHK: 302) in an attempt to boost its exposure to China.

Great Eastern Holdings is one of the largest insurance companies in Singapore. It is majority owned by OCBC and has a market capitalisation of more than S$8 billion.

Meanwhile, Singapore Press Holdings is the main media company in Singapore. It owns numerous newspapers (including The Straits Times and The Business Times) in the country and has interests in magazines, book publishing, broadcasting and even internet platforms. The company is also the manager and majority owner of SPH REIT (SGX: SK6U), a real estate investment trust that owns two retail properties in Singapore.

Foolish Summary

Despite the Lee Foundation’s relative obscurity, its influence can still be felt in the banking and commodities sectors and even in the media that we consume daily.

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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.