Malaysian rubber gloves tycoons skyrocket demand for protective gear
This story is part of Forbes coverage of Malaysia’s Richest 2021. See the full list here.
Malaysia is a powerhouse in the global $ 28 billion rubber glove industry, producing nearly two-thirds of the world’s supply – and prices have tripled this year due to a global glove deficit of 80 billion made of rubber. US buyers, meanwhile, are looking to Malaysia from China, allowing the industry to double glove exports last year to 35.3 billion ringgits ($ 8.8 billion). All of this has swelled the fortunes of five founders of Malaysian glove companies, even as their stocks peaked last year as countries roll out vaccines.
The richest is Kuan Kam Hon Hartalega Holdings, which saw his fortune (shared with his brother) reach $ 3.8 billion while the shares of Hartalega gained 60%. Last year, the company sold 31 billion pieces and launched a $ 63 million expansion. “We estimate that demand in developed countries has increased by 40% while demand in developing countries has more than doubled,” Kuan said via email.
Lim Wee Chai, founder of Top Glove, saw his fortune almost triple to $ 3.5 billion. Revenue for the six-month period ended Feb. 28 was 10 billion ringgit, exceeding the total of 7.2 billion ringgit for the last fiscal year ended in August. “We have a strong balance sheet and such times can provide us with acquisition opportunities,” Lim said via email. The company sold 62 billion pieces in fiscal 2020.
Lim Kuang Sia, returned to the list after four years, fueled by a 77% increase in shares in Kossan Rubber Industries, controlled by him and his brothers. Revenue increased 65% to 3.6 billion ringgit and net profit nearly quintupled to 1.1 billion ringgit last year. “We are growing in stages and we are sustaining the growth. We have had a record of uninterrupted profitability since our inception in 1979, ”says Lim.
Stanley Thai by Supermax Corp. also joins the list after a six-year hiatus. Supermax shares, controlled by Thai and his wife Cheryl Tan, has jumped more than 400% in the past year, propelling their combined fortune to $ 1.1 billion. Supermax is building five new factories over the next two years and seeks to double its total capacity to more than 48 billion gloves by 2022. The company has also started manufacturing face masks during the pandemic.
Son of Wong Teek, which co-founded glove maker Riverstone Holdings, saw its wealth increase 187% to $ 890 million as demand increased for both medical and industrial gloves. The company’s shares have skyrocketed in the past year, with revenue rising 85% to reach 1.8 billion ringgit in 2020.
The current boom could survive the pandemic. “Demand will remain robust as all industries, from food and beverage to technology, cruise liners and airlines, will increase their use of gloves,” said the president of the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers. Association, Supramaniam Shanmugam.