Westports Holdings founder and chairman G. Gnanalingam passed away on Tuesday at the age of 78, as per the company’s filing with Malaysia’s stock exchange.
“Tan Sri Datuk Gnanalingam was the founder of the Company and a source of inspiration; he touched our lives and the community with his compassion, generosity and kindness,” said the company. Gnanalingam is survived by wife Siew Yong and children Ruben Emir, Shaline and Surin.
The Malaysian billionaire cofounded Westports Holdings with Ahmayuddin bin Ahmad in 1994 by securing the concession to operate. He had been executive chairman of Westports Holdings since 2013. He also held the same position at Westports Holdings’ wholly-owned subsidiary Westports Malaysia since 2000, while his son Ruben Emir is Westports Holdings’ group managing director.
Derived from Westports Holdings, Gnanalingam had built a fortune of $1.4 billion as of Tuesday. “His vision and stewardship of the company have built and transformed Westports and Port Klang into the preeminent gateway port in Malaysia and one of the transhipment hubs in South East Asia,” said the company’s statement.
Westports Malaysia is one of the leading multicargo port operators in Southeast Asia with 80% market share of Port Klang’s container traffic on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. Strategically located in the Strait of Malacca, Westports Malaysia has connectivity with 350 ports worldwide. Last year, the company posted a 2.1 billion ringgit ($445 million) in revenues, a slight increase from 2021.
It provides a wide range of port services, including marine services, rental services and other ancillary services. The company owns a 60-year concession to operate and expand its container terminals in Pulau Indah, Port Klang, a major transhipment hub in the Strait of Malacca.
Gnanalingam started his career as a sales representative of British American Tobacco group in 1968, and in 1980 was appointed as marketing director. With long experience in the marketing space, in 1988 he started G-Team Consultants, a marketing consultancy firm. Gnanalingam attended the Royal Military College in Malaysia from 1960 until 1964 before obtaining a bachelor’s in arts from the University of Malaya in 1968.