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Singapore banking tycoon Wee Cho Yaw, former UOB chairman, dies at 95

Wee is one of Southeast Asia’s most successful businessmen, having helmed UOB Group for more than 60 years before he retired from the board in 2018.

He was also chairman of real estate developer UOL Group.

In a statement on Saturday, UOB said: “It is with deep sadness that UOB announces the passing of Dr Wee Cho Yaw, Chairman Emeritus and Adviser to the UOB Group at the age of 95.

“Dr Wee, a visionary banker, celebrated businessman and community pillar, was pivotal to UOB’s development as a leading bank in Asia.”

Born in Kinmen in 1930, Wee moved to Singapore as a child amid the Sino-Japanese war.

At the age of 28, he became the youngest director on the board of United Chinese Bank which his father Wee Kheng Chiang co-founded in 1935.

It was later renamed United Overseas Bank (UOB), and under Wee’s leadership, it became Singapore’s third-largest bank by market cap.

One of Singapore’s wealthiest men, the banking veteran consistently appears on Forbes’ rich list.

In 2023, he was eighth on the Forbes list of Singapore’s 50th richest people, with a net worth of US$7.2 billion.

Wee’s eldest of five children, Wee Ee Cheong, is the current CEO of UOB.

“My father has left an indelible mark in Singapore and the region,” said Wee Ee Cheong.

“He has been a source of inspiration for me in all aspects of my life. Much will be said about his business acumen and deal making but it will be the values of honour, enterprise, unity and commitment that will be the legacy he leaves us at UOB.

“Whether it is thorough thinking for the long-term, the importance of deep relationships, doing the right thing or giving a helping hand to those in need, the influence of my father and his values will endure at UOB.”

The late Wee’s contributions to Singapore extend