Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary
Date of Birth: 1952
Place of Birth: Kedah, Malaysia
Despite ranking 605th on the Forbes Rich List last year, Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary keeps a low profile. In August, he stepped into the limelight when he was named as part of an Indian-Malaysian
consortium that has bid for a 46% stake in Zain, the second largest
communication firm in the Gulf and owner of Celtel with operations in
16 African countries. Valued at US$13.7 billion, this deal would mark
the largest foreign takeover of a Middle Eastern company and would
prevent Zain's planned sell-off of its African assets. The terms of the
deal, though, are still unclear.
Born in Alor Setar in 1951,
Al-Bukhary, who left school to help with the family business, is now
worth an estimated $2 bn. (although this may have been affected
adversely by the financial crisis). His first job was as a market
seller of vegetables and roti canai (Malaysian
flatbread) and he took over his father's meat selling business at the
age of 19 - and expanded. After that he took out a loan to buy two
lorries and started up a haulage company, Syarikat Pengangkutan Sentosa. Later he moved into rice and sugar trading, then clothing, manufacturing and real estate.
Al-Bukhary's fortune grew alongside his friendship with Mahathir Mohamed,
Malaysia's Prime Minister in 1981-2003, and his business interests
today reflect both his early diversity and his political connections.
He owns 51% of the Malaysia Mining Corporation and through MMC he also
controls 51% of Malakoff, which produces 25% of Malaysia's energy. MMC
also controls Shapadu and owns 41.8% of Gas Malaysia, the country's
biggest gas provider. One of Malaysia's richest men, Al-Bukhary is also
a philanthropist with charities working on health and human security in
Asia and Africa.