Forbes Asia October 2021

Forbes Asia chronicles entrepreneurs, executives and companies throughout Asia.

United States
Forbes Media LLC
13 Issues

in this issue

2 min
india ascendant

This month we present our annual list of India’s 100 Richest. It’s a journalistic tradition that dates back to 2004, when Forbes Global, the precursor to Forbes Asia, published the first India rich list. Then as now, this list has been diligently over-seen for 17 years by Naazneen Karmali, Asia wealth editor and India editor. The country has come a long way since 2004. This year’s list affirms India’s continued ascendancy. The collective wealth of India’s top 100 wealthiest is up an astounding 50% from the 2020 list to a record $775 billion. India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is worth $92.7 billion. Back in 2004, Mukesh together with his brother Anil Ambani were listed at No. 3 with a combined fortune of $6.4 billion, behind No. 1 Lakshmi Mittal with $11.2…

4 min
stop this legalized thievery!

“With all thy getting, get understanding” There’s a pernicious procedure called civil asset forfeiture that Congress should have banned years ago. Using it, the U.S. government can seize your house, your car and your cash, even when you’ve done nothing wrong—i.e., you haven’t been charged with, much less convicted of, a crime. And this happens more often than you think. Since Congress hasn’t taken care of this, the Supreme Court should unambiguously rule that the process is utterly unconstitutional. Officers can just declare that they suspect the property in question was used in the commission of a crime or was obtained illegally, and they don’t have to prove their suspicions before seizing it. That’s right—no charges have to be filed. Then, incredibly, you must prove your property is clean. Recovering the assets that were…

4 min
southeast asia’s vc boom

“Capital goes where welcome, stays where well-treated.” The quote belongs to Walter Wriston, a famous U.S. banker. It is often cited as being about tax arbitrage, i.e., Switzerland, not France. But I once had a chance to ask Wriston about his quote. “It’s more than that,” he said. “The Latin word for capital is capitalis, which is the head, the source of ideas. Capital is ideas, entrepreneurs, and investment. It’s creative energy. It yearns to go where it can do exciting, productive things.” Venture capital seeks alpha investments—ones that can return 100x or more for early investors. Where does venture capital want to go today? Southeast Asia. “This year is the coming of age of Southeast Asia’s tech ecosystem,” says Amit Anand, founding partner of Singapore’s Jungle Ventures. “Today the region…

10 min
value builder

After taking control of one of Singapore’s oldest companies more than a decade ago, Chew Gek Khim, executive chairman of Straits Trading, had a plan: TO STREAMLINE the firm’s tin business and scattered interests and carve out a forward-looking investment company focused on higher yields in property and hospitality. She restructured and cashed up for new deals, such as buying a 20% stake in Singapore property fund manager ARA Asset Management in 2013. That move is now paying off. The privately held firm has just been sold for $5.2 billion, leaving Chew with a paper gain of S$710 million ($526.5 million). “I’m happy, pleased, vindicated,” says Chew, 60, from her office in Singapore, three weeks after ARA’s acquisition by Hong Kong-listed ESR Cayman was announced in early August. The deal comes with…

6 min
final frontier

The successful July launches of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space flights for many seemed more like a made-for-TV spectacle than a showcase of scientific advancement. But for the venture capital community it meant something different. The milestones were a sign to many investors and entrepreneurs that the commercialization of space, which has been spearheaded by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, was not only possible but might be more expansive and come sooner than originally thought—and they wanted in. These private space companies, all of which formed about 20 years ago, have lofty goals of regular space tourist flights or building factories in orbit. But regardless of these ambitions—or if they even get there—what they have done thus far to prepare has fundamentally changed what role a private company…

6 min
rising tempo

More than two decades after it released its first album, American rock band Kings of Leon was honored at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But what got the southern-inflected group to Cleveland last April was not its music; it was its non-fungible token (NFT) called “NFT Yourself.” The digital tokens went on sale in March for the Ethereum equivalent of $50 a pop, and included a copy of the band’s latest album, a unique piece of artwork, a one-off gold record and musical outtakes. Over the two weeks it was available, KoL moved 6,500 copies of “NFT Yourself” for a total of $2.2 million, including six “Golden Tickets” that sold at an average price of $100,000. Those extra-special NFTs included lifetime VIP concert access to one show per tour,…