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Sy-Coson, Azcona on Forbes list of Asia’s power women

By: - Reporter / @daxinq
/ 04:53 AM February 28, 2014

Teresita Sy-Coson CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The chair of the Philippines’ largest bank and the president of the country’s biggest drugstore chain were adjudged two of the most powerful businesswomen in Asia, according to an annual who’s who list published by Forbes Asia magazine.

Teresita Sy-Coson—a daughter of shopping mall tycoon Henry Sy Sr.—maintained her presence on the honor roll for the third year. The 63-year-old mother of three chairs Banco de Oro Universal Bank and is vice chair of SM Investments Corp. (SMIC).

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She was joined by Vivian Que-Azcona, president of Mercury Drug that has been in business since 1945, right after Manila was liberated from the Japanese.

They were the only Filipinos on the closely watched annual listing.

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Diverse industries

Forbes said it recognized the “50 Power Businesswomen in Asia” who were driving change across diverse industries.

The 50 women who made the list were selected based on criteria, such as company revenue, their position at the company and their involvement in the running of daily operations, the magazine said.

“As vice chair of SM Investments, Sy-Coson leads one of the largest family conglomerates in the Philippines, with roughly $5 billion in annual revenue from banking, property, hospitality, retail and malls,” Forbes said.

Sy-Coson is arguably the most influential among six siblings whose father is the country’s richest man, with an estimated net worth of P12 billion.

Forbes noted that the past year saw the merger of SMIC’s SM property group—which includes 48 shopping malls in the Philippines and five in China, residential projects, hotels and convention centers—with another unit, SM Prime.

SEA’s biggest property firm

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The merger created one of Southeast Asia’s biggest property companies with a land bank of more than 825 hectares and total assets of $7.5 billion.

As chair of Banco de Oro, Sy-Coson spearheaded the opening of 54 new branches last year, bringing its total to 815 in the Philippines and one in Hong Kong, Forbes said.

“When she has free time … she prefers to ‘sleep or do nothing,’” the magazine noted.

Mercury’s humble beginnings

Forbes noted the humble beginnings of Azcona’s Mercury Drug, whose founder, Mariano Que, began by selling on the street bottles of medicine from a pushcart.

“Today, his company has more than 11,000 employees and 900 stores nationwide, 100 of which are open 24 hours a day,” it said. “Que’s daughter, Vivian Que-Azcona, is president of the privately held company, which has an estimated market share of 60 percent and is reported to be considering a backdoor listing [on the stock market].”

No. 1 individual taxpayer

In 2012, the Bureau of Internal Revenue listed Azcona as the highest taxpayer in the country. She and her family are ranked No. 19 on the Forbes “rich list” for the Philippines with a net worth of $840 million.

Others who were honored for their achievements and success included: Karen Agustiawan, president of Indonesia’s Pertamina; Eva Chen, cofounder and CEO of Japan’s Trend Micro; Ho Ching of Singapore’s Temasek Holdings; Sun Yafang, chair of China’s Huawei Technologies; Gail Kelly, CEO of Australia’s Westpac Banking; Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder and chair of India’s Biocon; Hong Kong’s gaming queen Pansy Ho; Vietnam’s Mai Kieu Lien who chairs Vinamilk; and Gina Rinehart, executive chair of Australia’s Hancock Prospecting.

Women from 13 countries are represented on the list. Those from China and Hong Kong again dominated this year’s list with 16 women, followed by India with seven.

Singapore and Australia each have four women on this year’s list, while Indonesia, South Korea and Vietnam each have three.

The Philippines, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan each have two women on the list. Malaysia and New Zealand each have one woman.

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TAGS: Asia, businesswomen, Forbes Asia list, most powerful, Philippines, Teresita Sy-Coson, Vivian Que Azcona
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