Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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# 286 Wee Cho Yaw $7.11B

Random fact: UOB was the first local lender to conduct operations in yuan in 2002.


Wee Cho Yaw is the largest shareholder and chairman emeritus of United Overseas Bank, Singapore's third-biggest lender by assets. The company has about 500 branches and offices in 19 countries and territories. It held customer deposits of S$293 billion ($215 billion) and had assets of S$388 billion as of Dec. 31, 2018.

As of :
Last change -$545k ( -0.0%)
YTD change -$2.13B ( -23.1%)
Industry Finance
Biggest asset UOB SP Equity
Citizenship Singapore
Age 90
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Wee Cho Yaw's net worth of $7.11B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Wee's fortune is derived from publicly traded United Overseas Bank, Singapore's third-biggest lender by assets. The company has more than 500 branches and offices in 19 countries and territories, according to its website. It held customer deposits of S$293 billion ($215 billion) and had assets of S$388 billion as of Dec. 31, 2018, according to its February 2019 earnings presentation.

He owns about 19% of the business directly and through Singapore-based holding companies Wee Investments and CY Wee & Co, according to the United Overseas Bank's 2018 annual report.

He also holds stakes in property investor UOL Group, Tiger Balm maker Haw Par and United Overseas Insurance.

His closely held Kheng Leong Co. owns various real estate investments and property developments in Singapore, throughout Asia and in London, Sydney and Los Angeles. The business was started in 1949 as an international commodity and spice trading company. It's valued based on the average price-to-book value multiple of four publicly traded peer companies: City Developments, Bukit Sembawang Estates, Wing Tai Holdings and Ho Bee Land. Kheng Leong reported revenue of about S$294 million in 2018, according to a filing with Singapore's Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.

He's collected more than S$4 billion in dividends through December 2019, according to company filings and an analysis of Bloomberg data. The value of his cash investments is based on these proceeds as well as stock purchases, taxes, market performance and charitable giving.

Jean Khong, a spokeswoman for UOB in Singapore, didn't respond to a request for comment on Wee's net worth.


Birthdate: 1/1/1930
Family: Married, 5 children

Wee Cho Yaw was born in Quemoy, China, to Kuching-born Wee Kheng Chiang. His father founded the United Chinese Bank with six partners when Wee was seven. They initially targeted the Fujian community. Wee Cho Yaw moved with his family to Sarawak, in northeast Borneo, where he worked in the family's pepper and rubber company.

When Wee was 31, he took over his father's bank and expanded it -- enduring Singapore's separation from Malaysia in 1965, five recessions and a government-backed industry shakeout.

The billionaire charted acquisitions in Indonesia and Thailand and took over other Singapore banks in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2001, he defeated DBS, the region’s biggest bank by assets, in the S$10 billion takeover of Overseas Union Bank as the controlling family blocked a hostile bid by DBS and opted for the sale to Wee.

He stepped down as chairman of the bank in April 2013. He had anointed his son Wee Ee Cheong as chief executive officer in 2007. Hsieh Fu Hua, a former president at Temasek Holdings, succeeded the elder Wee as chairman.

  • 1930 Wee Cho Yaw born in Quemoy, an archipelago off China's coast.
  • 1965 Names bank UOB, opens first overseas branch in Hong Kong.
  • 1970 Lists UOB on the joint stock exchange of Singapore and Malaysia.
  • 2002 Lender is first in Singapore licensed to do business in yuan.
  • 2005 UOB establishes Thai group, raises Indonesian bank stake.
  • 2005 Sells 66 branches in Philippines to Manila's Banco de Oro.
  • 2007 Passes on chief executive officer role to son Wee Ee Cheong.
  • 2009 Starts Wee Foundation with S$30 million.
  • 2013 Steps down as UOB chairman in April 2013.
  • 2015 Opens first branch in Myanmar.