Dr Chen Lip Keong, a 76-year old tycoon from Malaysia and founder of NagaCorp, the Hong Kong-listed casino operator, died on December 8 after losing his battle with illness, according to the firm’s statement. In addition, at the time of his death, he possessed a net worth of $1.3 billion.
Dr Chen’s Background:
Raised as a member of the second-generation of a Chinese immigrant family, his home was initially Kinta Valley, a tin-mining region. In addition, Dr Chen studied medicine at the University of Malaysia, however, he felt a pull towards business.
Furthermore, he was involved in the production of aviation parts and property development. During 1990s, he decided to go on a trip to Cambodia in search of oil in the Gulf of Siam. However, as soon as the government offered a license for a casino, Dr Chen, who had never visited a casino until then, jumped at the chance. For him, it was an opportunity to blend “steady cash flow with the property development.”
On a related note, the accidental tycoon, a self-proclaimed name, officially established the aforementioned NagaCorp during 1995, operating a casino on a chartered barge at the Bassac River close to the Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace. During 2000, NagaCorp purchased land close to the barge dock and started constructing NagaWorld, and the casino switched to the mainland during 2003. Then, during 2006, NagaCorp succeeded in becoming the 1st casino firm to “list on the Hong Kong stock exchange.” Finally, during 2017, Dr Chen was able to open a luxurious “twin-tower extension.”
Moreover, the Primorsky Entertainment Resort City project in Vladivostok, Russia, was one of the goals of Dr Chen, who also wanted to extend its casino kingdom. However, in 2022, he halted the partially constructed project indefinitely following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the Forbes.
In its latest press release, the firm paid tribute to its late founder, stating: “His many years of entrepreneurial, business and managerial experiences had been instrumental to the group’s success. Under Dr. Chen’s visionary leadership, the group has been achieving remarkable growth and development after years of careful navigation of the business and skillful and strategic management.”
During June of this year, Forbes also revealed that he was preparing “succession plans“ for his casino firm. In this regard, in 2022 C-suite reshuffle, Dr Chen formally assumed the position of Senior Executive Director and named 3 of his sons as CEOs to individually oversee finance, operations and hotels. To strengthen the transition plans, he handed over a controlling stake in the NagaCorp to a family trust.
After his death, Yiy Fon was reappointed as CEO of the NagaCorp, which came into force from December 10. In this regard, NagaCorp said: “Yiy Fon, 41, who has headed operations since April 2022, will assume the leadership duties and responsibilities previously held by Chen.”