Richard Ong (born 1965) is a Malaysian investment banker and businessman. He is the founder and former chief executive officer of the Hopu Fund, a China-based private equity fund. Hopu is now the largest private equity fund in China. Ong is now the Chairman and CEO of RRJ Capital, a US$2.3bn private equity fund focusing on China and Asia.
In 2006, Ong was promoted to the position of co-head of Asia investment banking, replacing Bill Wicker, who moved to New York. GS moved Ong from Singapore to Beijing with the intention that he would also become CEO of their Beijing joint venture Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities, Co. However, Ong's weak knowledge of written Chinese led him to fail a language ability examination required to take up his new position. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) had required since 2004 that CEOs, deputy CEOs, and heads of supervisory boards at locally incorporated securities firms all pass the examination; however many CEOs and deputy CEOs of other securities companies were not able to pass the CSRC examination as well, but were given waivers. Goldman elevated the joint venture's deputy CEO Zha Xiangyang to the CEO post in Ong's place.
One industry observer criticised the decision by CSRC to deny Ong his new position as "short sighted and xenophobic", also noting that it served as a wake-up call to overseas Chinese that shared ethnicity was not a guarantee of success in the mainland China market. A China Economic Review editorial speculated that the language proficiency issue was merely a pretext, and that the true reason that CSRC denied Goldman permission to name Ong to his new position was due to his family ties to Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings and his own role in the money-losing sale of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's Shin Corporation to Temasek.
In January 2008, Ong resigned from his position at GS, ending a fifteen-year tenure there; his departure was seen as a major blow to the firm. He stated that he planned to return to Malaysia to spend time with his family and work in his family business. It soon emerged that he would be joining fellow former GS executive Fang Fenglei at the Hopu Fund, a new China private equity fund established by Fang. Goldman planned to invest roughly US$300 million of their own money in the new fund, while Temasek would provide another US$1 billion. The total size of the fund was planned at US$2 billion; interest from potential investors far exceeded that amount, according to unnamed sources.
Ong is Malaysian Chinese and was born in Malaysia. He received a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1986 and then an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1989. He has three children. His brother Charles Ong is the chief strategist of Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings.
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