NG TENG FONG was larger than life. 


Property was always on his mind

The late Ng Teng Fong, billed as Singapore's richest man by Forbes Asia magazine last September, rose from humble beginnings.

He was just six years old when his family migrated to Singapore from Putian, a village in China's Fujian province. His father set up a soya sauce factory and had a grocery shop in the Jalan Besar area stocking dried goods, preserved and specialty foods from their village.

Mr Ng was inducted at a young age to help out in the family business and did not acquire much formal education in Singapore, according to a short biography of the property tycoon released yesterday by his Singapore-based Far East Organization.

As the eldest of 11 children in the family, expectations were high that Mr Ng should carry on the family business. But he disappointed his father when he decided to strike out on his own in the 1950s, when he was in his 20s.

Mr Ng's first property project back in 1962 was a 72-unit terrace housing development at Jalan Pachelli in the Serangoon Gardens area. In 1969, he developed Watten Estate in the Bukit Timah area. In the 1970s, Mr Ng developed Far East Shopping Centre and Lucky Plaza along Orchard Road, followed by Far East Plaza on Scotts Road in the early 1980s. Since then, the group has developed Orchard Parksuites serviced residences and Orchard Central.

Mr Ng's Far East Organization group is the biggest private property developer in Singapore today. It comprises over 180 private companies and two listed entities - Orchard Parade Holdings and Yeo Hiap Seng.

In the 1970s, Mr Ng entered the Hong Kong property market. Today, the business there is under the Sino Group, which includes public-listed Tsim Sha Tsui Properties, Sino Land and Sino Hotels. Mr Ng was the only Singaporean businessman invited to the historic signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration by Margaret Thatcher and Zhao Ziyang in December 1984.

Mr Ng's property empire today comprises not only property trading (such as developing apartments for sale) but a sizeable property investment business (comprising completed properties held for recurring rental income).

For instance, Far East is the largest owner-operator of serviced residences and corporate housing in Singapore with 2,400 apartments in its inventory. Far East and Sino have a dozen hotels here and in Hong Kong with over 4,700 rooms. The flagship is The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

Those who knew Mr Ng recall his industrious streak. 'He was a man who worked extremely hard - day and night,' says Hong Leong Group executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng.

Back in the 1980s when the two men were active in the Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore (Redas), 'we used to study the property market together at his office . . . more often than not, we would find that we were still deep in discussion long after the official Redas meetings were over and everyone else had left', Mr Kwek said.

CB Richard Ellis chairman (Asia) Willy Shee said: 'Mr Ng didn't speak much English but was very sharp and his mind was on property all the time. Even at functions, he did not engage much in social talk but always wanted to know more about the property market and trends. There was never an idle moment for him.'

Another veteran property consultant, Knight Frank chairman Tan Tiong Cheng, reminisces about his first meeting with Mr Ng around 1981. 'He was carrying a worn-out black book in which he was copying notes, doing his calculations,' Mr Tan said.

'He was always focused on property. Even when he bought into Yeo Hiap Seng, he had in mind the land bank it offered rather than just the food and beverage business,' he added.   - 2010 February 3   BUSINESS TIMES 

Property industry loses towering figure

Ng Teng Fong of Far East Organization group dies, aged 82

Forbes Asia ranked him in September last year as Singapore's richest person, with a fortune said to be US$8 billion

Property tycoon Ng Teng Fong's passing yesterday marks the end of an era of larger-than-life property titans.

He was one of the earliest to develop shopping centres on Orchard Road and until today, his Far East Organization group here is probably the largest property owner in the island's prime shopping belt. In Hong Kong, he made inroads into one of the world's most competitive property markets, battling local tycoons to establish his Sino Group as one of the biggest developers there.

Market players yesterday recalled the tenacity and resilience of a man who rose from humble beginnings to build a property empire over the past five decades, bouncing back from setbacks along the way, especially the mid-1980s property slump.

Today, Far East Organization and sister outfit Sino Group have a combined annual turnover of US$5.5 billion and total assets of over US$40 billion, according to information on Far East's website. Last September, the Forbes Asia magazine ranked the late Mr Ng as Singapore's richest person, with a fortune said to be US$8 billion (S$11.3 billion).

The 82-year-old suffered a brain haemorrhage on Jan 23 and underwent an operation before he died peacefully yesterday morning, a statement from Far East Organization said. He leaves behind his wife and eight children.

While Mr Ng still kept a keen interest in his business until recently - including determining prices of property launches and land bids - he had handed over the running of his business empire some time ago to his two sons. Elder son Robert is in charge of Sino Group in Hong Kong and younger son Philip oversees the Far East Organization group in Singapore.

Philip Ng, who holds degrees in civil and geotechnical engineering as well as city planning, has over the past decade or so spruced up the company in Singapore and hired many professionals. The group has developed many award-winning buildings.

Mr Ng's wake is being held at Ng's Mansion at 2 Watten Estate, with a nightly service at 8pm. The funeral will be on Saturday.

Many in property circles yesterday mourned the loss of Mr Ng, who they said, together with Kwek Hong Png, the late founder of the Hong Leong Group, was the pioneer of the private property market in Singapore. Mr Kwek died in 1994. His elder son Leng Beng yesterday said Mr Ng's passing was 'an immense loss for the industry and for Singapore'.

'He was a doyen of the property sector. He was a proven authority with a deep understanding of real estate and an innate talent of looking at the property market in a different way.'

United Overseas Bank Group chairman Wee Cho Yaw described Mr Ng as 'an old friend of more than 50 years' who had 'an intuitive flair for reading property cycles'.

CapitaLand Group president and CEO Liew Mun Leong highlighted Mr Ng's successful entry into Hong Kong, 'a very mature and competitive market, decades ahead of others in Singapore'.

'Even the largest property companies in Hong Kong take their hats off to his company in Hong Kong, where it enjoys a high standing,' Mr Liew added.

Redas president Simon Cheong said no other foreign player has entered the Hong Kong market like Mr Ng did. He said Mr Ng's 'master stroke' in Tsim Sha Tsui a few decades ago, mopping up a whole stretch of properties in the district, 'is still being talked about among market players today'.

Mr Ng entered the Hong Kong property market in the 1970s and continued to build his business there in the early 1980s when confidence in Hong Kong was shaken due to disputes on its future between the British government and China.

Admiring the late Mr Ng's acumen, Redas CEO Steven Choo said: 'He saw the enormous prospects for real estate in land-scarce prosperous cities like Singapore and Hong Kong. In Singapore, one of his most enduring legacies is that he laid down the foundation for Singapore's modern shopping street - Orchard Road. We can see the Far East emblem everywhere in Orchard/Scotts roads. Some of his projects were visionary at the time.'

Dr Choo noted that 'Far East has also helped establish condominium living in Singapore, through its continued participation in Government Land Sale tenders'.   -  2010 February 3   BUSINESS TIMES



Industry veterans recall his drive and industrious streak:

Wee Cho Yaw, chairman, United Overseas Bank Group

'Teng Fong was an old friend of more than 50 years. He had an intuitive flair for reading property cycles. I have always admired his acute perception of market forces, an acumen that has made Far East among the most successful property developers in Singapore and Hong Kong. His sudden passing is a great loss to the business community.'

Kwek Leng Beng, executive chairman, Hong Leong Group Singapore

'I knew Mr Ng for a long time, and had the privilege of working closely with him especially when we were active in Redas in the 1980s. I valued his views and benefited from his insights . . . His passing is indeed an immense loss for the industry and for Singapore.'

Liew Mun Leong, president & CEO of CapitaLand Group

'Mr Ng was highly respected as a successful pioneer and veteran in the Singapore real estate industry. We speak with high regard of how he successfully steered his business through several major crises over the decades and built an impressive business empire.   

'He has been equally successful in his foray into Hong Kong, a very mature and competitive market, decades ahead of others in Singapore. Such initiatives place Mr Ng Teng Fong as an exceptional property veteran whose entrepreneurship far exceeds many of us in Singapore. Even the largest property companies in Hong Kong take their hats off to his company in Hong Kong where it enjoys a high standing.'

Simon Cheong, president of Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore

'Mr Ng is indeed a property icon in Singapore . . . We at Redas will indeed miss his presence and guidance. His scale and timing are legendary.   - TRIBUTES

Asia property tycoon Ng Teng Fong dies

Ng Teng Fong, one of Asia's richest tycoons and the founder and chairman of Singapore's largest unlisted property group, Far East Organization, died Tuesday aged 82, the developer said.

Far East said in a statement that Mr. Ng had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on Jan. 23.

Forbes Asia magazine in 2009 listed Mr. Ng as the richest person in Singapore, with a net worth of more than US$8 billion.

In 1971, he founded Sino Group, the Hong Kong sister of Far East and the parent of Sino Land Co., which is Hong Kong's fifth largest developer by market capitalization and one of the most aggressive purchasers of land in the land-scarce city.

Sino Land runs the landmark Conrad Hong Kong and Royal Pacific Hotel & Towers hotels in Hong Kong, while Far East runs its flagship Fullerton Hotel in Singapore. Mr. Ng's son Robert is Sino Land's chairman.

Far East's Web site says that it and Sino Group, when combined, have an annual turnover of $5.5 billion and total assets of more than $40 billion. Together, Far East and Sino Group have a portfolio of 12 hotels in Singapore and Hong Kong, with a total of 4,727 rooms, according to the site.

The property tycoon was born in 1928 in China's Fujian province, which was the birthplace of many emigrants who later became highly successful businesspeople in Southeast Asia. After a smallpox outbreak in his village of Putian when Mr. Ng was six years old, his - which eventually had 11 children migrated to Singapore.

A profile of Mr. Ng in a 1996 book entitled "Leaders of Singapore," written by Melanie Chew, said his first business in the city-state, a provision shop, failed. But he began to have great success - and got the nickname "Lucky Ng" - from going into property development. He established his first Singapore housing project in 1962 and later developed many properties along and near Orchard Rd., including one named Lucky Plaza.

The book quotes one of Mr. Ng's sons as saying the father, who always did calculations with an abacus, "is the eternal optimist and his belief is that hard work, coupled with good luck, paves the road to success."

Mr. Ng, who lived simply and regularly worked 18-hour days, was publicity-shy.

Far East Organization was established as an umbrella for his stable of companies. The group today comprises more than 180 privately held developments and investment companies as well as two publicly listed companies. The Sino Group in Hong Kong consists of private holding companies held by the Ng family, Sino Land and two other publicly listed companies.

Analysts said Mr. Ng's death will have little or no impact on property developer Sino Group, as Mr. Ng long wasn't involved in its operations. Far East Organization is run by another son, Philip. -  2010 February 3      WALL ST JOURNAL

Forbes magazine estimates Far East Organisation's Ng Teng Fong and family's worth at US$5.5 billion (S$8.4 billion).   Mr Ng, who also owns beverage brand Yeo Hiap Seng, is described by the magazine as 'Singapore's richest man'. The largest part of his fortune is in Tsim Sha Tsui Properties, chaired by eldest son, Robert, in Hong Kong. Son Philip manages family's Singapore business.

Mr Ng, who is married with six children, owns winning racehorses in his Lucky Stable. Known to be frugal, he has apparently lived in the same house for more than three decades, said Forbes.  - 2009 March 12

" Property tycoon Ng Teng Fong's Far East Organization was the biggest buyer in the property investment market in Singapore last year (2006) with about $1.6 billion worth of deals under its belt"

Far East to pay attention to high-end homes 
Influx of overseas players has raised the bar in prices and quality: CEO

Far East Organization will pay more attention to the high-end property market, which has grown too big to ignore, says CEO Philip Ng.

'In the past, we concentrated our efforts on the mass market serving entry-level private home buyers as well as buyers of mid-market condominiums and landed homes.

'Today, this very wealthy segment of the market has grown too significant to ignore. We must therefore augment our organisational machinery, in terms of our product development and sales and marketing capabilities, to address this,' Mr Ng says in the group's in-house publication Landmark.

Mr Ng also stressed that as Singapore shapes up as a vibrant international city, it is seeing new players from overseas with 'high standards and deep expertise' and 'flush with cash and hungry for projects'.

'They have raised the bar in prices and quality and changed the nature of the game.' Mr Ng observed.

'We need the right frame of mind and resolve to compete in this new league,' he said, stressing that it was imperative for the group to lift its level of performance as the 'stakes have become much higher now, with the heat in the market and soaring replacement costs'.

'For if we do not sell at the right prices, when we go back into the market, we are actually topping up more equity. We would be doing what is uneconomic, that is, selling low and buying high,' he said.

At the other pole, income-driven demand also looks more promising. Mr Ng said that sustained robust economic growth and a strong job market will translate to rising incomes.

'There will be more purchasing power to support the domestic segment of the property market - the mass-market, entry-level, and mid-market condominiums and landed properties which have remained subdued thus far.

'In the next few years, we expect the middle market to play catch-up with the international market in terms of transaction activity with some price upswing,' he said.

Far East sold 869 residential, commercial and industrial units worth $725 million last year. [2007] But while the group's business showed improvements across all fronts, 'we were not able to meet our targets in property sales and in the leasing of our portfolio of residential, retail and industrial assets'.

Far East, set up by Mr Ng's father, property magnate Ng Teng Fong, last year bought nine sites costing about $1.6 billion in Singapore. They will yield in total 3.1 million square feet of buildable area. This is the largest land bank investment Far East has made in a single year, exceeding the total of $1.54 billion invested in land and property acquisitions in the preceding six years from 2000 to 2005. Besides the nine sites, Far East's Hong Kong-based sister company Sino Land bought the Collyer Quay site last year for $165.8 million.     - 2007 March 14      THE BUSINESS TIMES

Phillip Ng is said to be most interested to involve internationally acclaimed JAMES K. M. CHENG of Vancouver involved in some of their future projects.


Elder son ROBERT NG runs family fortunes in Hong Kong operating as Sino Land and his proven himself time again that he is able to compete with the  Big Boys in Hong Kong.

Sino Land pays HK$1.64b for choice Kowloon site
Price reflects expected 15-20% rise in home prices 

Robert Ng's Sino Land yesterday beat six other developers to secure a West Kowloon site for HK$1.64 billion (S$385 million), a price which analysts say reflects his expectation of a 15 to 20 per cent rise in home prices.

Yesterday's land auction was the first this financial year, netting the Hong Kong government a total HK$2.97 billion for the four sites sold. That's more than the total land auction receipts of HK$2.68 billion for the whole of last financial year.

Nicholas Brooke, a property consultant at Insignia Brooke, said the auction reflects developers' optimism on prices in urban areas, such as West Kowloon. 'You cannot bid nearly HK$2,000 average price per square foot for a site unless you expect prices to go up 15-20 per cent. Clearly, the people bidding expect prices there to grow over the next 18 months to two years.'

Sino Land's winning bid was nearly 40 per cent above analysts' expec tations and much higher than the tender price of HK$1.1 billion that Lee Shau Kee's Henderson Land put in for the West Kowloon lot from the government's Application List.

Bidding for the site was brisk, with companies such as Ronnie Chan's Hang Lung Development and Henderson vying. But in the end, Sino Land put in just one bid at HK$1.64 billion to clinch the deal.

Analysts say that the price was 'expensive' at HK$1,944 psf for the 10,450 sq m site. Sino Land is well known for being prepared to pay top dollar and, in particular, it is still remembered for paying high prices at land auctions before the Asian financial crisis.

But a company spokesman said yesterday that the price for the West Kowloon lot was 'reasonable'. Sino Land already has two other developments in that area and is planning a resi dential-cum-commercial development on its new purchase, he added.

Henderson Land vice-chairman Lam Ko-yin described yesterday's auction as the 'liveliest in the last four years'. Developers were confident in bidding because the economy is now steadying, the government's housing policy is stable and interest rates are low, he said.

Auctioneer and Assistant Director of Lands Allan Hay also felt that yesterday's auction reflected confidence in the market. 'Competition for all the sites was very good. Today's auction indicates that people still have confidence in investing and building units because they have confidence that they can sell them on the market, despite all the comments about surplus supply.'

The second site sold yesterday was a 14,700 sq m plot for private residential development in Kowloon Tong. Legislator James Tien's Manhattan Garments is believed to be the developer who beat two others with a HK$570 million bid.

A third 19,300 sq m plot in Shatin went for HK$660 million to Nan Fung, while the fourth, a 3,720 sq m plot in Stanley, was sold to Tai Cheung Property for HK$100 million.

Hong Kong's property prices are still 50 per cent off their peaks in 1997, but some analysts say a rebound could start this year.

Mr Brooke, for one, expects prices in urban areas to rise 15 per cent within the next two years, while he sees prices in outlying areas taking another 3-4 years to recover.   -  2002 April 16    by Audrey Tan    Singapore Business Times 

Sino Land is in negotiations with fund managers about the possible sale of its 108-unit Sky Horizon luxury project in North Point, according to executive director Robert Lee Chi-hong.

Mr Lee yesterday said falling interest rates had prompted many investors to look to the luxury market.

Its Sky Horizon project, with units ranging in size from 1,300 square feet to 1,400 square feet, received several offers from foreign funds in Singapore, Australia and the United States, Mr Lee said.

But he refused to disclose details, saying the parties were still working out prices.

Sino Land was also considering reserving one block of the development for long-term investment, he said.

Mr Lee said the firm was preparing to launch an internal sale on the project.

However, real estate agents said the developer had sold more than 10 units yesterday at prices from HK$6,800 to HK$7,800 per square foot. Many buyers were local investors, agents said.

Mr Lee expected a sell-out of the 108 units could realise about HK$1 billion.

He said the property market was on the road to recovery in light of the low mortgage rates and the improved home-buying confidence in some of the new developments.

He hoped to draw more investors in future projects.     - 13 December 2001     South China Morning Post   


My first experience ever with the founder and Chairman of Far Eastern Organization  in Singapore,  NG TENG FONG was when he passed through town in the 1980's and roared at me "Do you want this deal or not?".    We had just a few hours to itemise everything and negotiate a purchase because he was leaving town that afternoon.    From that moment onward, I learned the skills of How To Deal With Asian Tycoons including responsiveness and attention to detail  

He came through Vancouver a second time with his friend FUNG KING-HEY, the founder of Sun Hung Kai Finance in Hong Kong, who Merrill Lynch paid $65 million USD in 1982 to get a toe-hold in Asia.  

Elder son ROBERT NG has grown family fortunes in Hong Kong operating as Sino Land.

Younger son PHILLIP NG has taken over operation reigns locally in Singapore, continuing to be a significant player in the market. - 太太


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