Malaysian Billionaire Lim Wee Chai’s Top Glove Fourth-Quarter Profit Slumps Amid Softer Demand
Top Glove—controlled by billionaire Lim Wee Chai—said Friday profit for the fourth-quarter slumped 48% as sales of rubber gloves declined following a temporary ban in the U.S. amid allegations of forced labour at its factories.
Net profit dropped to 607.9 million ringgit ($146 million) in the three months ended August 31, from 1.2 billion ringgit the year before, the company said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia. Sales dropped 32% to 2.1 billion ringgit during the period as demand for gloves normalized following an accelerated rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines around the world, it added. The company posted record earnings at the height of the pandemic last year as demand for the protective gear surged.
A year-long ban of Top Glove’s products in the U.S. also continued to dampen sales, while lockdowns enforced by the Malaysian government to curb a renewed spike in Covid-19 cases slash the company’s output.
The U.S. lifted the ban last week as the firm said it addressed forced labor allegations at its Malaysian factories. “This positive development is expected to boost sales to the U.S., which accounts for 15% of the group’s total sales,” the company said.
The U.S. ban had caused Top Glove to delay its proposed dual primary listing in Hong Kong, which was first announced in October. The listing application has lapsed last month but the company—which is already listed in Malaysia and Singapore—said this week it intends to resubmit the application.
Lim started Top Glove—which can produce up to 100 billion gloves a year is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of rubber gloves—with his wife Tong Siew Bee in 1991 and took the company public in 2001. With a net worth of $3.5 billion, he was ranked No. 8 on the list of Malaysia’s 50 Richest that was published in June.
Correction: September 19, 2021
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the founder’s name as Lim Chee Wai rather than Lim Wee Chai, and the description of Top Glove’s proposed listing in Hong Kong was described as a secondary listing, but it will actually be a dual primary listing.