Malaysia's 50 Richest, 2014: The Road to Iskandar

This story appears in the March 3, 2014 issue of Forbes Asia.

By Jessica Tan

Tycoons from both sides of the Malaysia-Singapore causeway have been scrambling to Iskandar to get a slice of the new residential and commercial center. Four of the investors charging in from the Malaysian side made the Malaysia 50 List, including new billionaire Danny Tan Chee Sing. From the Singapore side, most prominent has been another billionaire, Peter Lim.

(See our list of Malaysia’s 50 Richest.)

Eight years ago the Malaysian government unveiled a plan to turn barren land in Iskandar–a 30-minute drive from Singapore–into an internationally important metropolis. The tipping point has come in the past two years with the completion of projects such as the Legoland Malaysia theme park, the Iskandar Coastal Highway and Johor Premium Outlets. The buy-in of the Singapore government and investors from China and Australia, plus talk of building a rapid-transit link between Singapore and Johor by 2018, has also spurred momentum for Iskandar.

Some 65% of the investment committed to Iskandar has come from Malaysia. But even with the government’s recent measures to slow the property market–which hit foreign buyers the hardest–industry players and watchers believe that the medium- to long-term outlook for Iskandar remains just as bright.

No. 23 Jeffrey Cheah, who is building luxury homes along the Pendas River, expects Iskandar to drive his Sunway Group’s exponential growth over the next 15 to 20 years. Lim Kang Hoo, who debuted on the list at No. 19, has reportedly pushed back plans to take his Iskandar Waterfront Holdings public until later this year, due to the government’s cooling measures.

An early investor in Iskandar,
No. 39 Leong Hoy Kum, also made the list for the first time. His Mah Sing Group says it will launch its fifth township development in Iskandar in the second half of the year.