M & L Hospitality – APEA – Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Michael Kum
Executive Chairman


M & L Hospitality
www.mnlht.com


Kampong boy turned self-made businessman
With a portfolio of hotels that is worth SGD$3 billion, Singapore-born hotel mogul Michael Kum, 74, did not grow up with a silver spoon. Instead, the self-made businessman’s living conditions while growing up were humble. Michael grew up in an attap house along the swampy banks of Kallang River, sleeping on a wooden bed with a straw mat, with pigs and chickens as his backyard friends. It is hard to imagine that he is now one of the most successful hotel property owners in Singapore within a short period of 10 years.

Born to Chinese immigrants escaping the war in the 1940s, Michael credits his mother’s entrepreneurialism for his strong sense of business acumen and resourcefulness. Having lost his father when he was a teenager, Michael’s mother had to work hard to raise him and his three other siblings. She worked long hours every day, selflessly providing for her family through various small businesses. This included selling fried noodles, porridge and laksa from their own small coffee shop.

By helping in his mother’s various small businesses, Michael learned the value of money at a young age. He did part time studies in the evening to further his education in Higher Commercial Law and Higher Costing (Cost Accounting) from the London Chamber of Commerce. His eye for opportunities spurred him into a career in entrepreneurship. After a few years as an employee and subsequently as a Director of an offshore vessel chartering company, he then started his first business at the age of 31 in the same industry. This is where he made his fortune and is no small feat considering Michael had started the company with his limited financial resources and loans from his mother, friend and a bank. Yet with this challenge, he managed to grow the business from the ownership of one offshore supply vessel to 35 vessels and a shipyard in Batam, Indonesia in 2008.

Fulfilling his calling in the hospitality sector
In his mid-career, Michael harboured plans of investing in the hospitality sector. The seed was planted 30 years ago when he was expanding his offshore vessel chartering business to Australia and travelled frequently to Perth. Down the Great Eastern Highway which connected Perth Airport to the city of Fremantle, Michael was inspired by the many motels along the highway that displayed room vacancies. This sparked off the idea of investing in hotel properties, where centrality of location would be a key factor.

Having experienced success in the shipping industry, Michael was at the turning point where he could either retire or continue in other businesses after selling down the offshore shipping company in 2008. Not one to slow down, he diverted his attention and enthusiasm to real estate investment, forming Grandline International in 2009, the parent company of M&L Hospitality, a wholly owned subsidiary set up to hold the group’s portfolio of hotel assets.

The first property bought was the Four Points by Sheraton, acquired during the height of the 2009 global financial crisis when money lending opportunities were limited. Taking a calculated risk, Michael purchased the property for AUD$185 million. His great foresight of the potential of the Sydney Darling Harbour as a strategic location with strong business and tourism appeal, and its proximity to the business district has since paid off. The property, which is now the Hyatt Regency Sydney, had undergone a $250 million transformation to include a new 25-story tower, an additional 222 rooms and 7,000 square meters of commercial space. It has experienced a steady high occupancy rate, and is the company’s and Australia’s largest hotel today with 892 rooms.

Today, the group has a portfolio of 20 hotels across 12 major cities in seven countries. The geographical diversity of M&L Hospitality’s portfolio is designed to capture global growth whilst hedging against cycles in regional markets and different cities. All 20 hotels are operated by reputable international brands such as Accor, IHG, Hilton, Hyatt and Radisson Hotel Group.

Quick and nimble family-owned business
As Executive Chairman of M&L Hospitality, Michael has always focused on growing the business through strategic acquisition and adopts the philosophy of spending money to maintain, upgrade and enhance his hotels to create added value. Celebrating its tenth year in the business this year, he prides M&L Hospitality as a family-owned business. He runs the company with his eldest daughter, Jocelyn, the firm’s Executive Director, and Neil Maxwell, the CEO. He attributes the success of the company to its ability to adapt quickly to changing market tides. Looking ahead, Michael believes the company will continue to stay in real estate investments but will keep his ears close to the ground, always on the lookout for the next growth of business. In keeping with his ability to find opportunities in diverse sectors, the company has already made its foray into the healthcare sector in 2014, and most recently, back into the offshore vessel chartering business.

The group remains lean with 30 people, with offices in Singapore, Sydney and Amsterdam.

“Be fearless, at the end of the day, win or lose, you know you gave it your all.”

For budding entrepreneurs, he strongly believes that a little hard work never hurt anyone. In order to run a successful company, one needs to “build up a good team, delegate the work, and have sound financial risk management strategies to ensure your company can go the distance.”

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Michael Kum
Executive Chairman

Kampong boy turned self-made businessman
With a portfolio of hotels that is worth SGD$3 billion, Singapore-born hotel mogul Michael Kum, 74, did not grow up with a silver spoon. Instead, the self-made businessman’s living conditions while growing up were humble. Michael grew up in an attap house along the swampy banks of Kallang River, sleeping on a wooden bed with a straw mat, with pigs and chickens as his backyard friends. It is hard to imagine that he is now one of the most successful hotel property owners in Singapore within a short period of 10 years.

Born to Chinese immigrants escaping the war in the 1940s, Michael credits his mother’s entrepreneurialism for his strong sense of business acumen and resourcefulness. Having lost his father when he was a teenager, Michael’s mother had to work hard to raise him and his three other siblings. She worked long hours every day, selflessly providing for her family through various small businesses. This included selling fried noodles, porridge and laksa from their own small coffee shop.

By helping in his mother’s various small businesses, Michael learned the value of money at a young age. He did part time studies in the evening to further his education in Higher Commercial Law and Higher Costing (Cost Accounting) from the London Chamber of Commerce. His eye for opportunities spurred him into a career in entrepreneurship. After a few years as an employee and subsequently as a Director of an offshore vessel chartering company, he then started his first business at the age of 31 in the same industry. This is where he made his fortune and is no small feat considering Michael had started the company with his limited financial resources and loans from his mother, friend and a bank. Yet with this challenge, he managed to grow the business from the ownership of one offshore supply vessel to 35 vessels and a shipyard in Batam, Indonesia in 2008.

Fulfilling his calling in the hospitality sector
In his mid-career, Michael harboured plans of investing in the hospitality sector. The seed was planted 30 years ago when he was expanding his offshore vessel chartering business to Australia and travelled frequently to Perth. Down the Great Eastern Highway which connected Perth Airport to the city of Fremantle, Michael was inspired by the many motels along the highway that displayed room vacancies. This sparked off the idea of investing in hotel properties, where centrality of location would be a key factor.

Having experienced success in the shipping industry, Michael was at the turning point where he could either retire or continue in other businesses after selling down the offshore shipping company in 2008. Not one to slow down, he diverted his attention and enthusiasm to real estate investment, forming Grandline International in 2009, the parent company of M&L Hospitality, a wholly owned subsidiary set up to hold the group’s portfolio of hotel assets.

The first property bought was the Four Points by Sheraton, acquired during the height of the 2009 global financial crisis when money lending opportunities were limited. Taking a calculated risk, Michael purchased the property for AUD$185 million. His great foresight of the potential of the Sydney Darling Harbour as a strategic location with strong business and tourism appeal, and its proximity to the business district has since paid off. The property, which is now the Hyatt Regency Sydney, had undergone a $250 million transformation to include a new 25-story tower, an additional 222 rooms and 7,000 square meters of commercial space. It has experienced a steady high occupancy rate, and is the company’s and Australia’s largest hotel today with 892 rooms.

Today, the group has a portfolio of 20 hotels across 12 major cities in seven countries. The geographical diversity of M&L Hospitality’s portfolio is designed to capture global growth whilst hedging against cycles in regional markets and different cities. All 20 hotels are operated by reputable international brands such as Accor, IHG, Hilton, Hyatt and Radisson Hotel Group.


M & L Hospitality
www.mnlht.com


Quick and nimble family-owned business
As Executive Chairman of M&L Hospitality, Michael has always focused on growing the business through strategic acquisition and adopts the philosophy of spending money to maintain, upgrade and enhance his hotels to create added value. Celebrating its tenth year in the business this year, he prides M&L Hospitality as a family-owned business. He runs the company with his eldest daughter, Jocelyn, the firm’s Executive Director, and Neil Maxwell, the CEO. He attributes the success of the company to its ability to adapt quickly to changing market tides. Looking ahead, Michael believes the company will continue to stay in real estate investments but will keep his ears close to the ground, always on the lookout for the next growth of business. In keeping with his ability to find opportunities in diverse sectors, the company has already made its foray into the healthcare sector in 2014, and most recently, back into the offshore vessel chartering business.

The group remains lean with 30 people, with offices in Singapore, Sydney and Amsterdam.

“Be fearless, at the end of the day, win or lose, you know you gave it your all.”

For budding entrepreneurs, he strongly believes that a little hard work never hurt anyone. In order to run a successful company, one needs to “build up a good team, delegate the work, and have sound financial risk management strategies to ensure your company can go the distance.”