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Singapore, 26 April 2012 – Lee Kun-Hee, the 70-year old chairman of Samsung Group isthe richest man in Korea once again with a net worth of $10.8 billion, up $1.5 billion from the year before, according to the latest Forbes’ Korea Rich List 2012. The full list can be found at www.forbes.com/korea and in the May issues of Forbes Asia and Forbes Korea, the Korean language edition of Forbes, now on newsstands.
The gain in Lee Kun-Hee’s net worth was the second highest after Kim Jung-Ju. The44-year old entrepreneur who founded online gaming company, Nexon, catapulted to third place on the Korea rich list from No. 9 last year.
Kim’s wealth has more than doubled in a year from $2.06 billion to $4.3 billion after he listed Nexon in Tokyo in December 2011. The $1.2 billion initial public offering wasJapan’s largest of the year. Since the launch the stock has risen 17%. The company expects revenue to grow 25% this year.
Yoon Gil-Joo, editor-in-chief of Forbes Korea, said: “The top rankings on the Korearich list have been linked to chaebols in the past. Kim’s success as an entrepreneur is remarkable”.
Overall, the collective net wealth of Korea’s 40 richest climbed by $500 million to $66.1 billion during a period when the main stock index fell 6.15%. A record 22 billionaires are on this year’s list, up from 21 last year. The minimum net worth to be ranked is $515 million, against $525 million last year. Tim Ferguson, editor of Forbes Asia, commented: “We are seeing solid pockets of new superwealth in Korea”.
Despite the dip in the KOSPI index last year, a 52% rise in shares of Samsung Electronics propelled Lee Kun-Hee’s net wealth. The company chalked up sales of $155 billion and became the world’s largest memory chip and flat screen TV manufacturer.
Ranked second place on the list is Chung Mong-Koo, chairman of Hyundai Motor,the world’s fifth largest automaker. Chung is valued at $6.6 billion, compared to $7.4 billion last year. In 2011, Hyundai and Kia sold 6.6 million vehicles and their combined US marketshare jumped from 3% in 2001 to 10% a year ago.
The two richest women on the list are Lee Myung-Hee, sister of Lee Kun-Hee, and Lee Boo-Jin, his eldest daughter. Lee Myung-Hee is at No. 11 on the list and heads Shinsegae Group, the country’s second largest retailer after Lotte. She is worth $1.68 billion, up from$1.6 billion last year. Lee Boo-Jin is worth $1.23 billion, up from $1.1billion last year.
There are five new faces on this year’s list, including one who joined as a billionaire,Lee Joong-Keun, who is ranked No. 20 with a net worth of $1.04 billion. Lee oversees apartment-construction company Booyoung. The others are Park Sung-Soo (No. 32), who started with a tiny clothing shop and is now Chairman of E-Land, a company that has expanded into the fashion, distribution and hotel businesses. The other newcomers are Seo Jung-Jin of Celltrion, the largest biotech company in Korea (No. 31), Lee Joong-Keun (No.20) and Shin Sun-Ho (No. 39). The latter two made their fortunes from real estate.
Two tycoons return to the list after dropping off last year: Lee Hae-Jin of NHN, acompany that operates Korea’s widely used search engine Naver, and Lee Joon-Yong ofconstruction company Daelim.
The top 10 richest Koreans are:
1) Lee Kun-Hee; US$10.8 billion
2) Chung Mong-Koo; $6.6 billion
3) Kim Jung-Ju; $4.3 billion
4) Jay Y. Lee; $3.8 billion
5) Chung Eui-Sun; $3.1 billion
6) Shin Chang-Jae; $2.2 billion
7) Chung Mong-Joon;$2.17 billion
8) Chey Tae-Won; $1.9 billion
9) Shin Dong-Bin; $1.87 billion
10)Shin Dong-Joo; $1.75 billion
The list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from thefamilies and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, South Korea’s Financial Services Commission and other sources. Net worths are based on stock prices and exchange rates as ofthe close of markets on April 13. Privately held companies were valued by comparing them with similar publicly traded companies.
For more information, visit www.forbes.com/korea
Licensed in 2003, Forbes Korea is a monthly Korean language publication by Joongang Ilbo, one of South Korea’s leading media conglomerates. About one-third of Forbes Korea’s content is from Forbes and Forbes Asia; the rest are local stories. Content include news on South Korea’s chaebols, entrepreneurs, celebrities, andphilanthropists as well as on the lifestyle and insights of the rich and famous in Korea.
Forbes Media encompasses Forbes and Forbes.com (www.forbes.com), the leading business site on the Webthat reaches on average 30 million people monthly. The company publishes Forbes and Forbes Asia, which together reach a worldwide audience of more than 6 million readers. It also publishes ForbesLife magazine, in addition to licensee editions in Africa, Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia,India, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Middle East, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey,and Ukraine.Other Forbes Media Web sites are ForbesWoman.com; RealClearPolitics.com; RealClearMarkets.com;RealClearSports.com and RealClearWorld.com. Together with Forbes.com, these sites reach on average 36 million business decision makers each month.
Steve Forbes serves as Chairman and Editor in Chief. Mike Perlis is President and Chief Executive Officer.
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