Strictly Business: The Kwek Leng Beng Story


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Kwek Leng Beng may be one of Singapore’s most successful businessmen, but he is also among the country’s most enigmatic. While his companies and brands are blue-chip counters and household names, the man behind one of Asia’s largest conglomerates has steadfastly remained reticent and at times mysterious.

As his business empire extends into five continents and includes some of the most prestigious hotels in the world, the man often avoids the limelight. Few can recall that he once had the measure of Donald Trump in New York, was welcomed by Boris Johnson in London, and went into a venture with Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia. Even at home in Singapore, many have only a faint inkling that he has had a hand in the iconic architectures that dot the Marina Bay skyline, from The Sail to The South Beach, and also Marina Bay Sands.

For the first time, the legendary dealmaker opens up on his six decades of breakthroughs in sectors ranging from real estate to hospitality, from finance to manufacturing. Strictly Business tells the story of a maverick tycoon whose outfits Hong Leong and City Developments have consistently overcome crises and recessions with aplomb.

This authorised biography shares the secrets of his success and the lessons he learnt through setbacks and challenges. Kwek reveals his tormented relationship with his father and his plans for succession to the next generation in a family business which has been among the most resilient in Southeast Asia.

In the hands of bestselling author and journalist Peh Shing Huei, this first biography of Kwek reveals the negotiations behind the biggest corporate deals in real estate and hospitality, and the little-known details of the straight-talking business leader in boardrooms. Strictly Business offers rare access and insights into one of Singapore and Asia’s most influential success stories.

ISBN: 978-981-12-8448-9 (Hardcover), 978-981-12-8451-9 (Softcover)
Page Count: 300
Year Published: 2023

Author:  Peh Shing Huei
Publisher: World Scientific Publishing & The Nutgraf Books

Additional information

Weight 0.4 kg
Dimensions 15.75 × 23 × 3.3 cm

Hardcover, Softcover

About the Author

Peh Shing Huei is the author and editor of numerous No. 1 bestsellers on Singapore politics, government and business, including most recently The Price of Being Fair and The Last Fools. He was behind a pair of biographies on former Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong: Tall Order and Standing Tall. He was also a winner of the Singapore Literature Prize for his book When the Party Ends. He is a founding partner of content agency The Nutgraf, and former news editor and China bureau chief at The Straits Times.


  1. George Yeo, former Cabinet Minister of Singapore

    Kwek Leng Beng’s story is worth reading. In my years interacting with him as a government minister and as a friend, I found him thoughtful, realistic and creative. He is not given to publicity or flashy living. He is a worrier. His lifework consisted of building on what he inherited from his father and turning CDL into a remarkable international enterprise.

  2. Sir David Michels, former Chief Executive of the Hilton Group and former President of the British Hospitality Association

    I have known LB in the same industry for 35 years and there are very few people who have weathered the significant ups and downs of the hotel business better than him. I have admired his tenacity, instincts and pure determination at building CDL into the organisation it is today — an amazing achievement by an amazing man and it is my pleasure to call him my friend

  3. Philip Ng, Chief Executive Officer of Far East Organization

    I have known Kwek Leng Beng (whom I call LB with affection) for over 38 years and am privileged to witness the ascent of CDL over the past four decades with admiration. No one has done as much to build this world-class company with its trusted brand in Singapore. LB was the prime mover in spreading the wings of CDL into other markets with astute investments in prime real estate at opportune times in the market cycle invariably, as well as to assemble an international chain of hotels — never an easy feat as real estate success rarely transcends geographical boundaries. LB is one of the most respected personalities in Asian real estate and his biography will be a precious recollection of how the enterprise was built through the ups and downs of the property cycle as well as global business cycle, his knack for the deals be it at home or abroad, and his instinctive understanding of international real estate. It is a valuable part of the annals of Singapore real estate and business, and most certainly an essential read for those of us in business.

  4. Moshe Safdie, architect of Marina Bay Sands and Jewel Changi Airport

    The fascinating story of one of Singapore’s great entrepreneurs and developers. The mysterious Kwek Leng Beng comes to life as he travels the world and builds a great hotel empire, real estate developments and a wide variety of other businesses. His insight and determination saved the Marina Bay Sands’ design and enabled its realisation. This is a tale of power, wealth, combined with sheer determination, which reads as a metaphor for Singapore’s rise as a nation.

  5. Philip Yeo, former Chairman of the Economic Development Board in Singapore

    Kwek Leng Beng is a maverick entrepreneur who is deeply passionate about hotels and properties. He has put Singapore on the map with his hotels around the world. There are few Asian business leaders with his proven track record across six decades. Strictly Business tells you the secrets behind this master dealmaker’s success.

  6. W Chan Kim, Distinguished Professor and Co-director of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute, named the Most Influential Management Thinker in the world

    Over my two-decades-long relationship, I have found Chairman Kwek smart, practical, honest, and loyal to his friends. I admire and respect him not only as a professional business person but also as a personal friend. He is a man of his words. I think very highly of him. This long overdue book captures his sharp business instincts. It places him among the giants of Asia’s top business leaders.

  7. Sir John Bond, former Chairman of HSBC

    I have been privileged to know Chairman Kwek Leng Beng since the early days of Hong Leong Group, CDL, and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels. I have watched with admiration how he has built these companies into highly successful property and hotel owners, internationally as well as in Singapore. He is one of the world’s great business leaders. Managing different businesses in different countries is complicated and few people have this skill set, but Chairman Kwek clearly does. Chairman Kwek has received numerous awards for his business acumen and for his ability to succeed in diverse sectors — property, hotels and finance — around the world. His is one of the great international success stories, so his book will be a compelling read.

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