Madelaine B. Miraflor
Retail and banking tycoon Henry Sy has retained his title as the country’s richest for 10 consecutive years. His net worth has surged to US$18 billion, up from $13.7 billion, making him the biggest gainer in dollar terms.
The administration’s major infrastructure push has turned out to be particularly favorable for some construction and property development tycoons, scoring big on the 2017 Forbes Philippines Rich List.
At the same time, brisk economic growth in the Philippines – nearly 7 percent this year – is expected to carry into 2018, benefiting magnates who enjoy a broad business reach.
SM Investments where Sy holds a 54 percent stake, recapitalized to expand its retail malls at home and in China.
Meanwhile, seven of the ten biggest dollar gainers on the Forbes list have sizable interests in construction and property development.
These include construction tycoon David Consunji (No. 6, $3.68 billion), Chairman of DMCI Holdings, and Ramon Ang (No. 10, $2.3 billion) of San Miguel, who nearly doubled his wealth due largely to a favorable initial public offering by his cement company, Eagle Cement.
Co-founders Michael Cosiquien (No. 29, $385 million) and Edgar Saavedra (No. 31, $375 million) also saw their wealth rise by more than 45 percent, buoyed by a 30 percent uptick in the shares of their infrastructure company Megawide Construction. The 20-year-old company, which handles construction of schools, Mactan Cebu International Airport and the country’s first intermodal transportation hub, reported a rise in construction and airport revenues over the past year.
Wheels of fortune
Enrique Razon Jr. (No. 3, $4.3 billion), Chairman of International Container Terminal Services, likewise saw his wealth rise by $800 million from $3.5 billion last year.
Other tycoons on the top 10 include Jaime Zobel de Ayala ($3.7 billion); George Ty ($3.6 billion), Tony Tan Caktiong ($3.4 billion) and Andrew Tan ($2.5 billion).
While some infrastructure tycoons saw gains in their wealth, others on the list did not fare as well. Half of the country’s top 50 tycoons saw their net worth fall.
This, as the benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) went virtually flat over the past year and the peso slumped against the US dollar on a surge in imports, taking a toll on the wealth of the Philippines’ richest.
John Gokongwei Jr. (No. 2, $5.5 billion), founder of JG Summit, saw his fortune fall by $1.3 billion from $6.8 billion last year, while Lucio Tan (No. 4, $4.2 billion), whose LT Group with interests in tobacco, spirits, banking and property development, saw his fortune shrink by $700 million from $4.9 billion last year.
While Edgar Sia II (No. 21, $820 million) enjoyed a surge in his net worth last year, his wealth fell by 32 percent this year as shares of his DoubleDragon Properties retreated.
Net worth of Alfredo Yao (No. 25, $600 million) was also down 26 percent as shares in his soft drink maker Macay Holdings dipped 21 percent on news of an impending raise in taxes on sugary drinks.
Making his debut on the list is Eusebio Tanco (No. 45, $150 million). Shares of his key asset STI Education Systems Holdings soared 136 percent over the past year, due to an expanding demand for courses in fields such as information and communication technology, and business and management.
There are also two returnees to the list this year – Walter Brown (No. 43, $160 million) and Philip Ang (No. 50, $120 million) who both returned to the list after a one-year hiatus.
The top 25 richest in Philippines (based on net worth) are:
1) Henry Sy; US$18 billion
2) John Gokongwei Jr.; $5.5 billion
3) Enrique Razon Jr.; $4.3 billion
4) Lucio Tan; $4.2 billion
5) Jaime Zobel de Ayala; $3.7 billion
6) David Consunji; $3.68 billion
7) George Ty; $3.6 billion
8) Tony Tan Caktiong; $3.4 billion
9) Andrew Tan; $2.5 billion
10) Ramon Ang; $2.3 billion
11. Lucio and Susan Co $1.8 B
12. Manuel Villar $1.65 B
13. Inigo & Mercedes Zobel $1.6 B
14. Robert Coyiuto Jr. $1.5 B
15. Mercedes Gotianun $1.4 B
16. Roberto Ongpin $1.15 B
17. Eduardo Cojuangco $1.1 B
18. Dean Lao $1 B
19. Ricardo Po Sr. $980 M
20. Betty Ang $880 M
21. Edgar Sia $820 M
22. Oscar Lopez $760 M
23. Beatrice Campos $650 M
24. Carlos Chan $620 M
25. Alfredo Yao $600 M
Tags: David Consunji, DMCI Holdings, Enrique Razon Jr., Forbes Philippines, Henry Sy, International Container Terminal Services, John Gokongwei Jr, Philippine Stock Exchange, property development, wealth