Top tycoons’ fortunes dive as economy tanks

Late billionaire Henry Sy, Sr.’s children, including Hans Sy and Teresita Sy-Coson, topped the 2020 Forbes Philippines Rich List, while property tycoon Manuel B. Villar ranked second.

THE country’s richest are also feeling the pinch from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the economic slowdown, as Forbes reported the collective wealth of top tycoons declined by 22% to $60.6 billion.

According to the 2020 Forbes Philippines Rich List released on Thursday, 32 out of the 50 tycoons saw a drop in their net worth this year as the economy shrank by a record 16.5% in the second quarter.

“Despite having one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, the Philippines saw its COVID-19 cases surpass 250,000 in September, the highest number in Southeast Asia. The country’s benchmark stock index… reflected the economic challenges the pandemic poses, falling 26% since fortunes were measured a year ago,” Forbes said in a statement.

The Sy siblings of the SM Group topped the Forbes‘ list with a net worth of $13.9 billion, even if their fortune was cut by $3.3 billion. The Sy siblings, namely Teresita, Elizabeth, Henry Jr., Hans, Herbert and Harley, inherited their wealth from their father and SM founder Henry Sy, Sr. who died in January 2019.

Manuel B. Villar, Jr., a property tycoon and former senator, ranked second with a net worth of $5 billion. The chairman of listed Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. saw his wealth reduced by $1.6 billion, but remained to be the richest individual on the Forbes list.

International Container Terminals Services, Inc. Chairman and President Enrique K. Razon, Jr. moved up to the third spot with $4.3 billion, 16% lower than last year’s $5.1 billion.

JG Summit Holdings, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Y. Gokongwei and his siblings debuted in fourth place with a net worth of $4.1 billion. The Gokongwei siblings replaced their father John L. Gokongwei, Jr. who passed away in November.

On fifth spot is Jaime Zobel de Ayala, whose children control one-third of the Ayala Group, with a net worth of $3.6 billion.

Alliance Global Group, Inc. Chairman Andrew L. Tan ranked sixth with $2.3 billion, followed by LT Group Chairman Lucio C. Tan with $2.2 billion; and San Miguel Corp. President and Chief Operating Office Ramon S. Ang with $2 billion.

The impact of the pandemic on the restaurant industry affected the wealth of Tony Tan Caktiong, chairman and founder of homegrown fastfood giant Jollibee Foods Corp. (JFC). While he ranked ninth on the Forbes list, Mr. Tan Caktiong’s net worth was cut by 37% to $1.9 billion as the company’s stores were hurt by the lockdown and restrictions on dine-in services since March.

Rounding out the top 10 list were Puregold Price Club owners Lucio and Susan Co with a $1.7 billion fortune.

Industry-related challenges also weighed on the wealth of some tycoons. The Ty siblings of GT Capital Holdings, Inc. and Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. saw a 46% wealth drop to $1.4 billion. The fortune of Security Bank Corp. Chairman Emeritus Frederick Y. Dy also fell more than 46% to $190 million.

Oscar M. Lopez, who owns a majority stake in ABS-CBN Corp., saw his net worth halved to $240 million after the media giant was denied a franchise by lawmakers in July.

Only 10 of the 50 tycoons on the Forbes list saw an increase in their wealth this year. Edgar “Injap” Sia II, whose net worth rose $300 million to $700 million, ranked 21st. The 43-year-old, who founded fastfood chain Mang Inasal and leads DoubleDragon Properties Corp. and MerryMart Consumer Corp. was the youngest tycoon on the list.

Six people fell off the list, including Edgar B. Saavedra, chairman and CEO of engineering firm Megawide Construction Corp.

Four names were brought back to this year’s list because of Forbes‘ 23% lower cutoff of $100 million: lawmaker and businessman Michael L. Romero ($135 million), Nickel Asia Corp.’s Luis J. L. Virata ($115 million), Aboitiz Group’s Mikel A. Aboitiz ($110 million) and Far Eastern University, Inc.’s Lourdes R. Montinola ($100 million).

Forbes based the tycoons’ net worth on stock prices and exchange rates as of market close on Aug. 28. — D.A.Valdez

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