Westlake Chemical’s family owners are new billionaires

Siblings James Chao, Albert Chao and Dorothy Chao Jenkins, who own a combined 70% of Houston-based Westlake Chemical Corp., now have a net worth of at least $1.4 billion, Bloomberg reported.

Westlake, North America's largest producer of low-density polyethylene, has seen its shares rise by nearly 90% this year as demand for plastics has soared, the Bloomberg report noted.

James Chao, 65, is Westlake's chairman; Albert, 63, is its president and CEO; and Dorothy, 67, serves on the board. None of them has appeared on an international wealth ranking before.

The company has grown through acquisitions; it has acquired 21 plants since 1986, the article said.

The siblings' father, T.T. Chao, was an American Tobacco Co, worker in China. The family moved to Taiwan in 1946. T.T. Chao formed partnerships with Sumitomo Corp. and Gulf Oil Co. The family moved to the U.S. in the mid-1980s and founded Westlake after acquiring a Louisiana polyethylene plant from Occidental Petroleum in 1986, the Bloomberg report noted.

According to the report, each sibling owns a third of the 46 million shares controlled by the family's holding company. The company went public in 2004. (Source: Bloomberg, Sept. 17, 2012.)