Published February 8, 2011

[B][SIZE="5"]Equally at ease at Nassim or Chomp Chomp[/SIZE][/B]


HANO Maeloa is just at ease sipping fine wine in his house at Nassim Road as eating at hawker centres. His favourite hawker food is carrot cake at Chomp Chomp in Serangoon Gardens.

[SIZE="1"]Mr Maeloa: Estimates that he could have invested about $20-30 million in his wine collection of about 8,000-10,000 bottles[/SIZE]

His most expensive wine investment is a Romanee-Conti magnum, which he had bought from a London merchant about 10 years ago for $50,000. All in, he estimates that he could have invested about $20-30 million in his wine collection of about 8,000-10,000 bottles housed in the 2,000-square-foot cellar in the basement of his residence at Nassim Road.

Mr Maeloa, his homemaker wife and their three school-going children, along with his mother, Sukmawati Widjaja (of the family that controls the Sinar Mas group in Indonesia), and his sister live in the bungalow.

The family developed the house on a site of about 40,000 sq ft which Madam Sukma purchased in 2006 from Peter Kwee. The house was designed by local architect Timothy Seow and the interiors were done by Hirsch Bedner Associates, Mr Maeloa says.

Perhaps Mr Maeloa's ease at fitting into both ends of the lifestyle spectrum may have to do with his having spent some of his early years here.

He did his entire primary school education at Catholic High (in Queen Street) followed by a few years at Whitley Secondary School (at Dunearn Road) - before moving to Boston for prep school. He holds a BSc in business administration from the University of Southern California.

Mr Maeloa used to run an IT fund in Los Angeles around the time of the Internet bubble, and when the bubble burst, he returned to Singapore in 2001 and set up a shipping business to coordinate the logistics requirements of the Sinar Mas group.

Around 2007, he sold the shipping business and invested in Top Global in Singapore, but failed to gain control of the company. He soon sold off his interest in Top Global but stayed on as an executive director.

His mother arrived on the scene a few years later, taking up a placement issue by Top Global in early 2010. She later made a general offer and also participated in Top Global's rights issue last year. Her stake is slightly over 50 per cent.

'My passion has always been in property,' declares Mr Maeloa, in an interview with BT on his 42nd birthday. Both Madam Sukma and Mr Maeloa are Singapore citizens now.

As a student of Whitley Secondary School, he excelled in badminton, winning trophies in interschool tournaments. These days, his hobbies include travelling with his family to ski resorts and hot springs in Japan, and touring the US and Europe. 'When I'm overseas, I like to visit places with unique architecture.'

In Singapore, he visits showflats of other developers in his free time. 'I like looking at how people do wonders with just a square space and sometimes small units.' Mr Maeloa is the only son and the eldest of four children of Madam Sukma.