Property investors dominate world’s billionaires list

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If you still need proof that property investment can make you rich, take a look at the latest line up of Forbes Billionaires List.

A total of 135 property tycoons now make up the world’s wealthiest list with 14 property billionaires joining the ranks this year alone, boosted by surging property values around the world.

Chinese business man  Lee Shau Kee topped the list of the world’s richest property tycoons with an estimated net worth of $19.6 billion, but Australia wasn’t forgotten with our own Harry Triguboff, aka “High-Rise Harry”, also named among the richest property investors.

Triguboff’s stats:
  • Founder and managing director of Meriton Apartments Pty Ltd
  • Forbes Billionaire rank: 281
  • Net worth: $5 billion
  • Age: 81
This property heavy weight immigrated to Australia as a teenager in 1948 and built his first block of apartments in the Sydney suburb of Gladesville in the early 1960s. He began developing in Sydney’s Inner West area and his third project, a block of 18 units in Meriton Street Gladesville, would eventually change his life.

After completing the development, the name Meriton stuck and in 1963 Triguboff founded the company that would make him Australia’s 6th richest man – Meriton Apartments Pty Ltd.

Meriton is responsible for selling an average of 1,000 apartments per annum -most are off the plan and located within a 10 kilometre radius of the Sydney, God Coast and Brisbane CBD area, as well as the construction of Sydney’s tallest residential complex, World Tower.

Born in China, Triguboff became an Australian resident in 1961, after leaving to pursue an education at Leeds University in England and later working in the textiles industry in both Israel and South Africa.

He returned to Australia in 1960 and throughout his career has been responsible for the construction of more than 60,000 residential dwellings.

14 out of the top 20 richest property billionaires hail from Asia

The rise of Asia’s property billionaires to the top of the richest list was fuelled by strong increase in property values during the third quarter of 2013. China and Hong Kong staged a staggering 21.6% and 16.1% rise in home values respectively.

Commercial properties too are faring better and rising from the crisis, with global office rents up by 3% overall by last year, according to Cushman & Wakefield research, though the figures vary widely by country.
*Source Forbes and Cushman & Wakefield

The world’s top 5 property investors

#1 Lee Shau Kee
  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 35
  • Net worth: $19.6 billion
  • Citizenship: Hong Kong
  • Age: 86
Founder and majority owner of Henderson Land Development, a property conglomerate with an interest in hotels, restaurants and internet services, Dr Kee has been listed as the 19th richest man in the world. A pioneer in the real estate industry, Dr Kee was the son of a gold trader and founded Henderson in the late 60s. It is understood Dr Kee focused on middle-class properties as he build his empire and later accumulated enough shares to enable Henderson to take control of Hong Kong Ferries and Towngas, which supplies 85% of Hong Kong homes.

#2 Cheng Yu-tung
  • Forbes Billionaire ranking: 54
  • Net worth: $16.2 billion
  • Citizenship: Hong Kong
  • Age: 88
Forbes Billionaire Rank: 54Cheng Yu-tung has long been one of Hong Kong's richest men. Yu-tung owns Chow Tai Fook Enterprises which operates the Sheraton Marina and publicly listed New World Group, among others. He found initial success in jewellery and later moved to property. After being reported to have had a stroke in 2012, he is no longer active in his varied companies and turned over the chairmanship of his New World Development to his elder son, Henry, 66, in March 2012.

#3 Wang Jianlin
  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 64
  • Net worth: $15.1 billion
  • Citizenship: China
  • Age: 59
The richest man in China, Jianlin is chairman of one of the country’s largest real estate development companies the Dalian Wanda Group, and after purchasing AMC Entertainment Holdings for US$2.6 million – is the world’s leading operator of movie theatres.
He also owns 75 department stores 85 shopping plazas and 51 five-star hotels.

#4 Donald Bren
  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 69
  • Net worth: $14.4 billion
  • Citizenship: US
  • Age: 81
Bren has been named the richest property developer in the United States. After earning a degree in business administration and economics from the University of Washington, Bren served three years as an officer in the U.S Marine Corps before forming his own company in 1963 - Mission Viejo Company.
His company was the master builder and planner of an 11,000 acre new community of Mission Viejo, CA, and he later sold his interest in the company to focus on state-wide development. In 1977 Bren joined a group of investors to purchase the Irvine Company Company which has a  portfolio exceeding 100 million square feet, including 480 office buildings, 41 retail centres, 125 apartment communities, three hotels, marinas, and golf clubs, primarily in Orange County, California and additional investment properties expanding into Los Angeles, San Diego and Silicon Valley.

#5 Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor
  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 81
  • Net worth: $13 billion
  • Citizenship: UK
  • Age: 62
Grosvenor has a couple of other interests aside from property, namely being the 6th Duke of Westminster. He is also a Major-General in the British Army and the Chancellor of the University of Chester. He is also the richest person in Britain, outranking the Queen, thanks to a family trust that dates back to the 17th Century. The trust owns estates in Lancashire, Cheshire and Scotland as well as properties in London, Spain and Canada. His company Grosvenor Group has property interests all over the world including retail, residential, industrial, office and hotels, while in the Asia Pacific the company is looking to develop a luxury residential brand.
Making up the Top 10

#6 Thomas and Raymond Kwok
  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 86
  • New worth: $12.6 billion
  • Citizenship: Hong Kong
#7 David and Simon Reuben

  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 95
  • Net worth: $11.5 billion
  • Citizenship: UK
#8 Robert and Phillip Ng

  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 106
  • Net worth: $11 billion
  • Citizenship: Singapore
#9 Joseph Lau

  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 158
  • Net worth: $8.4 billion
  • Citizenship: Hong Kong
#10 Peter Woo

  • Forbes Billionaire Rank: 186
  • New worth: $7.2 billion
  • Citizenship: Hong Kong

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