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God's good work

   
Yeoh flies his own helicopters and owns Pangkor Laut, a private island.
Fortune, 30 September 2002

Last month YTL Corp. reported net profits of $98 million on revenues of $681 million for the year ended June 30, up 13% from the previous year, while YTL Power (60% owned by YTL Corp.) said its profits rose 11%, to $127 million, on revenues of $395 million. "That's God's good work," Yeoh says, "and a lot of our hard work." – Fortune Magazine

Eric Ellis in the latest Fortune magazine quoted Francis Yeoh reckons he does business with a huge advantage. "Christ is my wise advisor," the 48-year-old Malaysian tycoon says. Not only does his advisor not charge like an investment banker, but, as Yeoh puts it, he also has helped grow Yeoh's YTL group tenfold over the past decade into a property, infrastructure, and technology giant with assets of $6 billion. Earlier this month, Yeoh says, a miracle brought Luciano Pavarotti to Yeoh's private island south of Penang to perform La Boheme arias on the beach before an audience of 200 business and political leaders. [Pavarotti’s Concert for Peace]

Fortune quoted Francis as the first Yeoh in a long line of Buddhists to embrace Christianity and opens business lunches by saying grace and closes deals with prayers. Yeoh credits being "born again" in 1971 with keeping him from succumbing to "third-generation syndrome"--the Chinese saying that the third heir of a family fortune will squander it. Eric Ellis observed, YTL sputtered after Yeoh took the helm in 1978. It wasn't until 1986, when anxious younger siblings groused that he spent more time with the Bible than with company books, that Yeoh focused on his job.

Riding Malaysia's booming economy, YTL expanded from construction into hotels and power generation. Last month YTL Corp. reported profits of $98 million on revenues of $681 million for the year ended June 30, up 13% from the previous year, while YTL Power (60% owned by YTL Corp.) said its profits rose 11%, to $127 million, on revenues of $395 million. "That's God's good work," Yeoh says, "and a lot of our hard work."

It helps that Yeoh is known as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's favorite ethnic-Chinese businessman. But he also times his deals well and keeps borrowing and costs under control. For example, YTL's airport railway in Kuala Lumpur, a copy of London's Heathrow Express, was built for a fifth of the cost, travels twice the distance, and charges half the ticket price. "The market likes him because he delivers ahead of budget and schedule," says advisor Michael Carapiet of Sydney's Macquarie Bank.

When Francis Yeoh was asked about the Fortune article especially pertaining to Yeoh’s Christian faith, Yeoh said, ”While I am not ashamed to credit God’s blessings to our company, I shall never use His name in vain.”




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