Being rich can be reflected on your house, cars, and even the brands of clothing one wears. Billionaire, the richest people are technically indifferent to showing off their wealth to their world. Nonetheless, many people tend to change when they gain wealth. Such is not the case with a certain Malaysian billionaire, Tan Sri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim.
This Malaysian Billionaire is positioned 25th in the Forbes rundown of 50 most extravagant individuals in Malaysia. Syed Azman was a military intelligence officer who served for 13 years in the Malaysian Armed Forces until obtaining the rank of Major. The native of Kedah started a used car business right after retiring from the military in 1993. His business requires him to travel back and forth to London to buy used cars before selling them in Malaysia. At that time, he did not have an Approved Permit (AP), an import and export license that is issued by the Permit Issuing Agencies, so he resorted to sharing the permit with friends who had the permit. After a period of time, he managed to secure an AP from the government and his car business was gaining prominence.
In spite of his thriving business, a change of government policies see a cease in the government offering open APs and only offering AP franchises. To get the AP franchise permit, Syed Azman has to be appointed by a foreign car company as a distributor, only then can he attain the permit. Luck was on his side when he managed to gain the trust of Honda to appoint him as a distributor of several types of cars in Malaysia, including the Honda Jazz. Syed Azman eventually got the right to distribute Chevrolet and Suzuki as well.
In an interview with The Star newspaper, Syed Azman said that although his business was fulfilling, he felt bored as he spent a better part of his time on the road, until his friend suggested that he buy a helicopter to travel back and forth.
In 2003, he bought his first helicopter for US $1.5 million for his daily use, and when he did not use the helicopter, he rented it out to those who were interested. It was then that he realised that the demand for these helicopters was high in Malaysia. Fast forward to five years later, he managed to secure his first contract to provide helicopter services to bring oil and gas sector workers to the rig.
Today, Syed Azman is the proud the owner of Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd (WAS). The company owns more than 40 helicopters, four private jets and he also has a contract worth RM8 billion to bring in oil rig workers, making him one of the richest men in Malaysia. Weststar Aviation has always placed its focus on the automotive sector as its core business, however, it has expanded beyond the automotive sector industry and has diversified its business in other key business industries. Some of the business that the company has undertaken includes the defense industry, property and construction, insurance, food and beverage, and ICT.
Not forgetting his roots, Syed Azman established The Weststar Group Automotive and Defence, where both divisions have a strong presence in the local and regional automotive market. Having an outstanding mass of sales and gaining more traction in the regional automotive market, The Weststar Group Automotive and Defence divisions consist of Weststar Maxus, Weststar Auto, Global Komited and SAFZ Auto.
Maxus is a brand of SAIC Motor Corporation Limited (SAIC) which is the largest automaker on China’s A-Share market with recent yearly international sales volume of over seven million units. SAIC took 39th Place in the 2019 Fortune Global 500 List and ranks 7th among all auto makers worldwide. The brand’s roots can be traced back to as far as 1896. In 2010 the intellectual property of LDV Maxus was obtained by SAIC with the first Maxus product unveiled at the Shanghai Motorshow in April 2011 – the same month that the Weststar Group was confirmed as the distributor for the Malaysian market.
As for the Weststar Defence Industries, it is a principle supplier of regional defence and security products and services. Weststar Defence Industries design, engineer, manufacture, market, and provide industry and technology consultation for an array of products. Like its core business, the mission statement of Weststar Defence Industries is to be a leader in the technology arms race in both defence and security industries. In fact, the company was recently appointed as the main contractor of MINDEF’s STARStreak VSHORAD Thales Air Defense Limited UK system procurement.
Despite being the richest in the country, Syed Azman is a person with a big heart. Through his company, he has conducted many CSR programmes, especially during the turbulent time when the country was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Weststar was one of the essential service providers, being ever ready to transport patients under investigations (PUI) to safety in the middle of Movement Control Order (MCO). Besides that, Maxus, under WestStar Maxus Sdn Bhd launched their own ambulance to help cope with the increasing numbers of patients during the pandemic. To help combat the pandemic, WestStar Group launched a fleet of negative pressure ambulances for the safe transport of Covid-19 positive patients.