Paint the town green, very very green

Goh Cheng Liang opened his first paint shop in 1955. Now, he co-owns Nipsea (the South East Asian branch of Japanese paint company Nippon Paint) and is the richest man in Singapore, with stakes worth US$8.2 billion (S$10.9 billion).

Last year, Goh was ranked 7th in Singapore’s richest person, having joined the billionaire club in 2013. Not bad for a man who’s 87 years old.

He is so media-shy that his Wikipedia page only consists of three lines. It is true what they say about the rich — they are always looking to invest more rather than flaunt their riches on luxuries. Goh’s sole guilty pleasure appears to be collecting luxury boats; in his known collection is the superyacht named White Rabbit. He owns FOUR of them. So much for not flaunting his wealth.

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Generous giver

While Goh’s main business is in paint, you’ll be surprised to learn that he has invested in buildings like Liang Court (now you know why it’s called LIANG Court) and Mt. Elizabeth Hospital. However, he has already sold his stakes in these buildings.

He is a noted philanthropist, having donated $40 million to the National Cancer Centre Singapore in March last year, and set up the SMU Goh Foundation scholarship in 2005. He also financed the Goh Foundation Scholars Programme to support talented local and international students pursuing medical degrees at Duke-NUS Graduate School.

Richie Rich’s story

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So why is he so rich all of a sudden? Well, his company, Wuthelam Holdings Pte Ltd, managed to double their stake in Nippon Group. A previous attempt to buy 30% of shares failed back in 2013, but his son Goh Hup Jin managed to come to a deal with the owners. The result of that deal can be seen now — Goh is now Singapore’s richest and more reclusive billionaire.

Goh had entered into a joint ownership with Nippon Group back in 1962 to form NIPSEA, which accelerated its growth into Asia’s leading paint company.

Nippon Paint was probably used on your block too, because Singapore requires buildings to be painted every five years. Nipsea is the largest Asian paint company with offices in 15 countries, and is the 4th largest globally.

Now who says painting is a waste of time?

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Suddenly, everyone realises that banking and finance alone may not be the only way to get rich — the unglamorous paint industry has already been tapped into and has made somebody very, very rich. The most surprising fact about Goh is that his name is not known within the paint industry, such is his reclusiveness.

Maybe some of the more adventurous people out there may want to stake their claim in the paint industry now? The juggernaut known as Nippon Paint isn’t going to relinquish their huge market so easily though! Or perhaps someone can lay their hands on another previously untapped market and end up on Singapore’s 50 richest people list? The sky is the limit!


Featured image via SgForums
With references via Forbes, BusinessWeek, Super Yacht Business, Forbes