PH billionaires a little poorer

/ 05:30 AM September 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — With the COVID-19 pandemic exacting a heavy toll on the economy and causing unprecedented disruptions to most businesses, even the Philippines’ wealthiest people have found themselves a lot poorer this turbulent year.

The collective wealth of the country’s 50 richest people has declined to $60.6 billion from $78 billion a year ago, based on the 2020 Forbes Philippines Rich List.


The Sy family, which has topped the list for 13 consecutive years, saw their fortune decline by $3.3 billion as the pandemic weighed down on its market-leading property, retailing and banking businesses. The heirs of the late SM founder Henry Sy Sr., who passed in January 2019, have a collective net worth estimated at $13.9 billion. Each of the six second-generation Sy scions—Teresita, Henry Jr., Hans, Herbert, Elizabeth and Harley—has an individual fortune of about $2 billion.

Since 2017, Forbes’ annual list no longer includes families in which the founder of the business has died, unless the successors are wealthy enough to make the cutoff individually. In such cases, inherited fortunes are combined.


As the pandemic dragged down the Philippine economy to its first recession since 1998, a total of 32 out of the 50 richest folks in this part of the world saw their fortune decline this year.

Based on Forbes’ list, the top 10 richest in the Philippines are:

1. Sy siblings; $13.9 billion
2. Manuel Villar; $5 billion
3. Enrique Razon Jr.; $4.3 billion
4. Lance Gokongwei and siblings; $4.1 billion
5. Jaime Zobel de Ayala; $3.6 billion
6. Andrew Tan; $2.3 billion
7. Lucio Tan; $2.2 billion
8. Ramon Ang; $2 billion
9. Tony Tan Caktiong; $1.9 billion
10. Lucio & Susan Co; $1.7 billion

Property tycoon Manuel Villar held on to his rank as the country’s second richest, even as his wealth fell $1.6 billion to $5 billion. Much of Villar’s fortune comes from the buoyant market capitalization of mass housing developer Golden Bria Holdings Inc., a former memorial park developer which has diversified its business to cater to the living. The tycoon also controls Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc. and retailer AllHome.

Port and casino operator Enrique Razon Jr. moved one spot up to No. 3 this year with a net worth of $4.3 billion, down from $5.1 billion.

Banking moguls were especially hard-hit as the pandemic prompted banks to jack up loan loss provisioning levels and accept lower profits. The Ty siblings (No. 12, $1.4 billion) of GT Capital and Metrobank saw their net worth decline by 46 percent, while Frederick Dy (No. 37) became poorer by 46 percent to $190 million as shares in his Security Bank fell 52 percent over the past year.

Fast food billionaire Tony Tan Caktiong (No. 9, $1.9 billion) suffered a pandemic-induced blow to his wealth this year as fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp.’s businesses across the globe declined due to lockdown protocols.


Caktiong’s net worth declined by 37 percent as COVID-19 bludgeoned business especially in Jollibee’s three biggest markets — China, Philippines and the United States.

The net worth of Oscar Lopez (No. 32), who holds a majority stake in TV network ABS-CBN, nearly halved to $240 million after Philippine lawmakers in July rejected the company’s bid to renew its 25-year broadcast license. Shares of ABS-CBN have lost close to 65 percent of value over the past year.

Among the few tycoons whose fortunes rose, Edgar Sia II (No. 21) was this year’s biggest gainer in both percentage and dollar terms. Sia racked up an additional $300 million, or 75 percent, to his net worth, which is now $700 million, following the successful initial public offering of his new venture, MerryMart Consumer Corp. The grocery business is among those doing well during this pandemic.

The two newcomers on the list include Lance Gokongwei and siblings, who debuted at No. 4 with a net worth of $4.1 billion, replacing father John Gokongwei Jr., who passed away in November 2019.

Gokongwei shares this fortune with his five sisters Faith, Hope, Lisa, Marcia and Robina.

The estate of San Miguel’s Eduardo Cojuangco, who passed away in June, was inherited by his wife, Soledad Oppen-Cojuangco, who ranks No. 16 with a net worth of $1.15 billion. She shares the fortune with their four children Carlos, Luisa, Margarita and Mark.

Six names dropped off the list, including Edgar Saavedra of Megawide Construction. Megawide’s shares fell by more than 65 percent after reporting a first-half net loss of P398 million pesos ($8 million).

Megawide’s cofounder Michael Cosiquien, however, stayed on the list as most of his wealth is tied to an earlier sale of the company’s shares. Cosiquien ranks No. 40 with a net worth of $175 million.

Four tycoons returned to the ranks, largely due to this year’s lower cutoff, which fell by 23 percent from last year’s list to $100 million.

They are: Michael Romero (No. 46, $135 million) of Globalport 900; Luis Virata (No. 48, $115 million) of Nickel Asia, Mikel Aboitiz (No. 49, $110 million) of Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Lourdes Montinola (No. 50, $100 million) of Far Eastern University.

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TAGS: business tycoons, coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, Enrique Razon, Manny Villar, Philippine billionaires, Tessie Sy-Coson
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