SINGAPORE (Nov 5): Tiger Balm, synonymous with its manufacturer of old, Haw Par Brothers, used to come in just one form — a small, hexagonal tub. Not anymore. Visit any pharmacy and you will see its back pain patch, joint rub, plaster, mosquito repellent, neck and shoulder rub, and Tiger Balm with glucosamine. Of course, the multi-purpose balm in the hexagonal tub is still available.

Just as its product range has grown, the Haw Par Corp of today is a conglomerate. Tiger Balm, now grouped under healthcare, is just one of its many parts. And, interestingly, even as the Straits Times Index has fallen 12.7% this year, Haw Par is up 13%. Why? Haw Par comprises a few unrelated businesses. It owns a profitable leisure business mainly in Thailand, and a small portfolio of properties. Eighty per cent of its assets are long-term securities holdings. 

Haw Par is owned and controlled by the family of veteran, maverick banker Wee Cho Yaw, who is also its chairman. The Wee family vehicles hold around 35.97% of Haw Par. Its deputy chairman is Wee’s second son, Ee Chao, and the CEO is youngest son, Ee Lim. Haw Par also owns a 4.2% stake in United Overseas Bank (UOB), 8.56% of UOL Group and 2.86% of United Industrial Corp (UIC).

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