Malaysian billionaire Cheah says he won’t list his education business

Malaysia’s multi-pronged real estate business Sunway Group has three public listings to its name.

yet what you’ll never find listed on any stock exchange is actually its education arm.

in which’s despite Sunway Education’s links to well-known institutions like Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute along with Australia’s Monash University.

“Right by the beginning, I had my mind set in which no way I’m going to list the company,” said Sunway Group founder along with chairman, Jeffrey Cheah.

As the sixth child in a large family whose father — the sole breadwinner — drove trucks, Cheah came by a humble background. He grew up inside smaller rural town of Pusing, Malaysia, along with he saw the effects of poverty on families along with on the education of children.

Cheah’s fortunes commenced to change when he seized the opportunity to pursue a business degree in Australia.

Today, the 73-year-old is actually one of the richest men in Malaysia, having a net worth of $1.3 billion, according to Forbes.

He is actually known for the building of mega townships along with for being a strong advocate of transforming livelihoods through education.

About a decade ago, an investment banker approached Cheah with an offer to take the company public on a stock exchange. Cheah turned the banker down.

“So sorry, I’ve made up my mind,” he recalls saying at the time. “This specific is actually what I want to return back to society. I want to put the idea in a foundation, structure the thing in a proper manner along with in perpetuity. Hopefully, the idea will be my not bad legacy.”

While not listing the education unit means turning away by potentially huge amount of funding, Cheah said the upside of his decision means the business will not be profit-driven. He won’t be held to the demands of shareholders.

Instead, management will do whatever is actually best inside school’s academic along with research interests, he told Christine Tan at CNBC’s Managing Asia: Sustainable Entrepreneurship conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 21.

Cheah said his overriding principle is actually in which the businesses must do no societal harm — which is actually why he has never dabbled in anything involved with gambling or smoking, he said.

In fact, he turned down offers by overseas to set up casinos in Sunway’s inaugural township in Greater Kuala Lumpur.

He had witnessed fellow townspeople addicted to gambling, he recalled — along with compromising their children’s education as a result.

“I told my people many a time, we will not go into businesses in which hurt society,” said Cheah.

Don’t miss:

At 100 years old, the globe’s oldest billionaire still goes to the office every day

Like This specific story? Subscribe to CNBC Make the idea on YouTube!