Khoo Teck Puat

Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat a Malaysian-born banker and hotel owner with an estimated fortune of $4.3 billion was Singapore's wealthiest man. He owned the Goodwood Group of boutique hotels in London and Singapore and was the largest single shareholder of Britain's Standard Chartered Bank. The bulk of his fortune came from shares in British bank Standard Chartered, which he bought up in the 1980s to help thwart Lloyds Bank's proposed acquisition which many financiers deemed hostile. The Goodwood Park Hotel in Singapore, built in 1900, is a historic landmark that recently underwent restoration.

He was ranked as the 108th richest person in the world by Forbes magazine in 2004. The estate of Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat had donated $80 million to Duke University.


Khoo gained his early education at Saint Joseph's Institution in 1930. Although his education was minimal, it was enough to get him started working in OCBC bank as an Apprentice Bank Clerk by 1933. While attached with OCBC, Khoo served as the Chairman of CPF Board for a year in 1958. His rise in OCBC was rapid and he developed strong ties with founder Tan Chin Tuan until they had a difference of opinion which resulted him leaving OCBC in 1959 as the General Manager. He argued that OCBC was growing far too slowly and not opening enough branches in the smaller towns in Peninsular Malaya.

In 1960, Khoo restarted his career in banking by founding Malayan Banking (now commonly known as Maybank) with a few partners in Kuala Lumpur. The bank grew rapidly to more than 150 branches within 3 years. In 1963, the bank purchased Goodwood Park Hotel, Singapore for $4.8 million. In 1965, Khoo was ousted from Maybank by the Government of Malaysia under the then Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak administration on the pretext of pumping the bank's money into his own private firm in Singapore. The political enmity between Singapore and Malaysia has taken its toll.

In 1968, Khoo bought over the Malayan Banking's Singapore properties including Goodwood Park Hotel and Central Properties for $50 million. While bitter with what the Malaysian government did, Khoo remained patriotic and kept his Malayan citizenship. He ceased to be a director of Maybank in 1976. His search for a banking vehicle continued.

In 1981, Khoo bought Australia's Southern Pacific Hotel Corp - parent of the Travelodge chain, but he sold it in 1988.

In 1986 an opportunity arose when as a white knight, Khoo made a dramatic acquisition of a 5% stake in Standard Chartered Bank. He subsequently grew his stake to 11% to become the single largest shareholder. In 1990, Khoo made a contribution of S$10 million to the Singapore Government's 25th anniversary charity fund - to help children, the elderly and the disabled. He was listed as Singapore's richest businessman by Forbes magazine in 2003.


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