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Global Chipmaking Boom Propels Two New Faces On Malaysia Rich List

This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of Malaysia’s Richest 2021. See the full list here.

A threefold jump in the market cap of Penang-based engineering services firm UWC to $1.6 billion in the past year has put cofounders Ng Chai Eng and Lau Chee Kheong on the list for the first time. Their company, which makes automated testing equipment for semiconductors, is seeing surging orders from booming global chipmakers. Rising demand is also coming from makers of virus extraction machines used for Covid-19 testing.

Despite a three-month pandemic-caused lockdown last year, the company saw a 52% jump in annual revenue to a record 219 million ringgit ($52 million) for the year ended in July. Net profit was up 59% to 58 million ringgit.

Ng, CEO, started his career as an electrician, while Lau, COO, began as a supervisor at an autoparts firm. The two met while working for a local maker of fans and lighting. In 1990, the duo pooled savings of 20,000 ringgit (about $7,400) to start Unique Wire Cut, a metal fabricator and trading firm. They expanded into making elevator parts, then added chip testers and medical equipment. In 2019, they took UWC public, raising 57 million ringgit.

UWC is seeing continued high demand. For the six months ended in January, revenue rose 46% to 149 million ringgit while net profit doubled to 49 million ringgit.

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