MANILA, Philippines?The mall tycoon Henry Sy and his family have increased their wealth by $1.4 billion despite the global financial turmoil, making them the wealthiest Filipinos this year, Forbes Asia magazine said Thursday.
Forbes said the 83-year-old Sy and his family were worth $3.1 billion.
While their peers were hit by the global crisis, the Sys rose from No. 2 position last year to No. 1 this year on the back of their holding company SM Investments Corp., which has interests in a dozen companies, including the country?s second-largest bank, Banco de Oro Unibank.
The fortune Sy and his family made was the ?biggest gain in absolute terms? of the country?s richest 40 families, Forbes said in a statement.
The low-profile Sy started out by selling shoes in 1958. From one store known as Shoemart, he built a multibillion-dollar empire. Today he is Asia?s biggest shopping mall operator, with several dozens of big malls throughout the Philippines and some in China.
The tobacco tycoon Lucio Tan and his family, with interests in other large businesses, came in second with a net worth of $1.5 billion, down by $100 million from last year.
Tan also controls the Philippines largest cigarette maker, Fortune Tobacco Corp., plus Philippine National Bank and Philippine Airlines, and has Hong Kong property.
Jaime Zobel de Ayala and his family, last year?s richest, dropped to third place with a net worth of $1.2 billion after losing $800 million, Forbes said.
The stock of the conglomerate Ayala Corp., with interests in real estate, banking, insurance, water distribution and other businesses, has been down 46 percent since last year, partly due to the economic slowdown and waning profits in banking and electronics, the magazine said.
Another property kingpin, Andrew Tan, saw his net worth plunge $400 million to $700 million. He was listed in fourth place.
The 57-year-old Andrew Tan made much of his wealth as a property developer, now largely in office space development for the business process outsourcing industry. He is now betting on gaming and tourism.
Forbes said the global financial turmoil pared down the collective wealth of the Philippines? 40 richest by 18 percent to $14 billion from $17 billion in 2007.
It said 25 Filipino tycoons, including some in real estate and banking, ?are poorer? this year because the Philippine Stock Exchange had dived 35 percent in the last 12 months.
The country?s richest politician, Senate President Manuel Villar, who controls the property developer Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., fell outside the top 10 list, to No. 11 from No. 5 last year.
Villar?s net worth plummeted 55 percent to $425 million, Forbes said.
Also hit hard was property tycoon Andrew Gotianun of Filinvest Land Inc., who fell 10 places to 17th after losing $625 million to give him a net worth of $235 million.
The top 10 list published on the Forbes website included the Jollibee Foods fast-food group founder-owner Tony Tan Caktiong and his family with a net worth of $690 million, in fifth place.
John Gokongwei Jr., founder of the JG Summit conglomerate, and his family were No. 6 with a net worth of $680 million.
Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., chairman of beverage and good group San Miguel Corp., was in seventh place with $610 million, Forbes said.
Port operator Enrique Razon Jr. of International Container Terminal Services was No. 8, with a net worth of $525 million, according to the magazine.
The founder of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co., the country?s biggest bank, George Ty and his family, came in ninth with $435 million.
The old-rich scions Iñigo and Mercedes Zobel, cousins to Jaime Zobel de Ayala, rounded off the Top 10 with a net worth of $430 million, according to the Forbes list.
Of the 40 richest Filipinos this year, 11 tycoons eked out gains but almost all of those increases were because of reporting on new assets or shareholdings or the combination of relatives? stakes, including Sy.
The Philippines had three billionaires this year compared with four last year as Andrew Tan lost his Forbes elite status.
Lourdes Montinola seemed to buck the trend as shares of her Far Eastern University increased $38 million to vault her to No. 31 with a net worth of $68 million.
There was only one newcomer, Alfredo Ramos of the National Boostore chain, Atlas Consolidated Mining and several other publicly listed companies, who debuted at No. 23 with a net worth $126 million.
Several media owners were among the wealthiest 40, including Emilio Yap and his family, who are also in banking and construction. They made it to No. 12 on the Forbes list, with $420 million.
Oscar Lopez and family of the power retailer Manila Electric Co., media giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. and other large businesses, were No. 16 with $240 million. His nephew Eugenio Lopez III and family were 28th on the list with $85 million.
Also on the list were three families with interests in GMA Network Inc. They are Menardo Jimenez and family (No. 21) with a net worth of $129 million, Gilberto Duavit and family (No. 22), with $127 million and Felipe Gozon and family (No. 25), with $110 million, according to the Forbes website.
Former ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco and his family, who run the upscale Rustan?s department store, were in 37th place with a net worth of $45 million.
A net worth of $30 million is required to make the Forbes Philippines? rich list, unchanged from last year.
Fourteen tycoons had net worth of less than $100 million and four of last year?s members didn?t make the cut.
The list of the Philippines richest will be featured in the Oct. 29 issue of Forbes Asia magazine, which will be available this week. Reports from the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse; edited by INQUIRER.net