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14 Filipino tycoons included in Forbes’ list of world’s richest


By Noreen Jazul  and Chino S. Leyco

Fourteen Filipino tycoons, led by mall-mogul Henry Sy Sr., made it to Forbes’ 31st annual ranking of the World’s Billionaires, joining the ranks of US President Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

With a total net worth of $12.7 billion, Sy placed highest among Filipinos in the list at No. 94. Although his global ranking dropped by three places in 2017, Sy still remains the richest man in the Philippines.

However, Sy’s net worth dropped from $12.9 billion last year due to global market volatility as well as strengthening of the US dollar.

Sy, whose vast business empire includes retailing, real estate, hospitality, banking, mining, education and healthcare services, was born in Xiamen, China, in 1924 and migrated to the Philippines to become the nation’s Retail King.



Sy family’s holding firm, SM Investments Corporation (SMIC), has consistently been cited as one of the Philippines best-managed companies. The Chinese businessman’s eldest daughter Teresita Sy Coson was also one of Asia’s most powerful businesswomen.

Meanwhile, the country’s second richest person is tycoon John Gokongwei Jr., 89, with an estimated net worth of $5.8 billion. But unlike Sy, the JG Summit Holdings founder saw an increase in fortune this year from $5.1 billion in the previous year.

Gokongwei started a cornstarch plant in the 1950s and transformed it into JG Summit with interests in food and beverages, airlines, property development, banking, hotels, and power generation.

He also owns a stake in publicly listed Robinson Retail Holdings and franchises for True Value, Top Shop, Toys R Us, Daiso. He has more than 1,500 retail outlets.

Meanwhile, tobacco king Lucio Tan kept his third spot this year with an estimated net worth of $3.7 billion, which is also lower from last year’s $4 billion.

The net worth of the Tan family includes the valuation of the clan’s shareholdings in flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Tan, who was also born in Xiamen in 1934, has business interests in banking, liquor, tobacco and real estate industries. The 82-year-old taipan is also often seen aboard his personal helicopter in the Makati business district.

Also joining the country’s richest list is Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. (Metrobank) owner George Ty, 84, who landed on the fourth rank, with his estimated net worth of $3.5 billion.

Today, Ty’s Metrobank is the country’s second-largest bank in terms of assets, and has interests in power plants, car distribution, insurance, real estate and among others.

Trailing Ty is casino and port operator Enrique Razon Jr., 57, who saw his net worth at $3.4.  The billionaire chairs the International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI), the country’s largest port operator, which also operates through subsidiaries in eastern Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Other Filipino businessmen who made it to the Forbes’ billionaires’ list were fast food chain Jollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong ($3.4 billion), mining and real-estate developer David Consunji ($3.1 billion), gaming and real-estate developer Andrew Tan ($2.5 billion), car dealership magnate Robert Coyiuto Jr. ($1.5 billion), and former Senator Manuel Villar ($1.5 billion).

Completing the list of Filipinos in the dollar billionaires club are Ramon Ang ($1.4 billion), Eduardo Cojuangco ($1.2 billion), Roberto Ongpin ($1.1 billion) and Edgar Sia ($1 billion).

Worldwide, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates topped the Forbes magazine list, while US President Donald Trump slipped more than 200 spots.

Gates, whose wealth is estimated at $86 billion, led the list for the fourth straight year, and has been ranked as the richest person in the world for 18 of the past 23 years.

Among the top 10 billionaires, a group heavily dominated by Americans, many from the technology sector, Gates was followed by Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffett, with wealth estimated at $75.6 billion, a $14.8-billion jump from the 2016 list, despite his pledge to give away 99 percent of his wealth.

Others in the top 10 included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who moved up to number three with the biggest gain of any person on the planet, a $27.6-billion increase to his fortune of $72.8 billion.

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg was number five and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison was number seven.

There are 183 tech billionaires in all with a combined $1 trillion in wealth, Forbes said.

The global population of billionaires jumped 13 percent from last year to a record 2,043, the biggest annual increase in the 31 years since the magazine began compiling the list, Forbes said.

The US had the most billionaires with 565, a product of the swelling value of the American stock market since Trump’s November 2016 election.

China was second with 319 billionaires, and Germany was third with 114.

More self-made women

Rounding out the Forbes top 10, Amancio Ortega of Spanish apparel chain Zara was fourth; Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim was sixth; the Koch brothers, US conservative political activists Charles and David, were eighth and ninth; and former New York City mayor and Bloomberg News founder Michael Bloomberg was 10th.

The highest ranking woman on the list was L’Oreal cosmetics shareholder Liliane Bettencourt, who was 14th with $39.5 billion.

The only other woman in the top 20 was Alice Walton, only daughter of Wal-Mart Stores founder Sam Walton.

Overall, there were 227 women billionaires, the majority of whom inherited their wealth. But the list also contained 15 new “self-made” women, mostly from Asian countries, including Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao of budget airline VietJet air.

Among other luminaries on the list, Alibaba founder Jack Ma was 23rd with $28.3 billion; activist investor and Trump deregulation adviser Carl Icahn was 55th with $16.6 billion; fashion designer Giorgio Armani was tied for 215th with $6.6 billion; Hollywood director Steven Spielberg was tied for 501st with $3.7 billion; and entertainment giant Oprah Winfrey was tied for 660th with $3 billion.

According to the Forbes magazine, the change in the total number of billionaires was the biggest increase in 31 years.

The total combined net worth of this year’s billionaires was $7.67 trillion, up from $6.48 trillion last year.

Of the total, 1,371 members were self-made billionaires, 238 inherited their wealth, while another 434 inherited at least a portion but are still growing it. (With a report from AFP)

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  • Tony Diongzon

    Ah ha! meaning they make more money than to spend so this is the good time for the workers to demand a higher salary, Dept of Labor and employment now you can initiate to uplift the salary rate of the Private Sector to a global level as we can see the disparity and a confirmation that Oligarch in the country are doubling their money in doing business in the Philippines. Raising the Salary scale can be attainable.

    Please Left leaning Workers Group or NDF initiated huwag naman makisawsaw .

  • underthePhilippineSun

    11 out of those 14 Filipino tycoons have chinese blood…. it only shows that these people have some KNOWLEDGE that CANNOT BE REACHED by an ordinary Filipino citizen…
    wondering why the ayala’s are left behind…

    • Rhoosie

      Chinese blood have kung fu and deception mixed with lack of conscience that’s why they amassed wealth among the very poor.

    • daggo77

      filipinos are lazy and think of only asking for free money, they don’ like to work for it.

  • Jcool Phi

    be an inspiration to others,,, may be??

  • jonacalalay

    Starvation salary and ENDO and tax avoidance. These are the secrets I think. Mabuhay ang mga bilyonaryo! Mabuhay ang mga negosyanteng chino!

  • johnny wang

    What a disgrace…. only 14 tycoons……..India had a thousand and China many more

  • Robert Kabigting

    OMG! Out of the 14, 10 are Chinese. We really don’t have to be occupied by China! It’s shameless that these so called “Filipino” billionaires made their billions from the poor Pinoys customers and laborers/workers.

  • Ed Bay

    Pacquiao, Willie Revillame and Vic Sotto paid individual taxes more than these super billionaires…???