Filipino billionaires see their wealth fall during pandemic

THE Philippines’ richest experienced a drop in their fortunes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the country’s economy.

The collective wealth of the country’s 50 Richest dropped to $60.6 billion (P2.9 trillion) from $78 billion (P3.8 trillion) a year earlier, according to Forbes Asia.

“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, the PSEi, reflected the economic challenges the pandemic poses, falling 26% since fortunes were measured a year ago,” the magazine said.

SM Investments vice chair Teresita Sy-Coson (second from left) and Henry Sy Jr. (third from left)

The Sy family maintained its position at the top of the list with a combined net worth of $13.9 billion (P673.5 billion), but saw a decline in their fortune by $3.3 billion (P159.9 billion) as the pandemic impacted the SM Group’s property, retailing and banking businesses.

Property tycoon Manuel Villar also suffered a $1.6 billion drop in his net worth to $5 billion (P242.3 billion), but managed to hold onto his rank as the country’s second-richest.

Port and casino operator Enrique Razon Jr., meanwhile, climbed up a spot to third richest with his net worth of $4.3 billion (P208.3 billion), down from $5.1 billion previously.

Manuel Villar (left) and Enrique Razon Jr (right)

The top 10 richest in the Philippines are:
1.  Sy siblings – U.S.$13.9 billion
2. Manuel Villar – $5 billion
3.  Enrique Razon Jr. – $4.3 billion
4. Lance Gokongwei & 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

Forbes noted that banking moguls were especially hit hard as the pandemic forced banks to accept lower profits as well as increase loan loss provisioning levels.

“The Ty siblings of GT Capital and Metrobank shed 46% of their fortune, to $1.4 billion. Frederick Dy was down more than 46% to $190 million as shares in his Security Bank fell 52% over the past year,” it said.

Forbes also pointed out that Oscar Lopez, who holds a majority stake in TV network ABS-CBN, lost almost half of his wealth, leaving him with $240 million (P11.6 billion), after Philippine lawmakers in July rejected the broadcast giant’s bid to renew its 25-year broadcast license.

Likewise, fast food billionaire Tony Tan Caktiong suffered a pandemic-induced blow to his wealth as the ensuing quarantine measurements forced Jollibee eateries to suspend their dine-in services. This cut sales by nearly half, and his net worth ended up declining by 37%.

Tycoon Edgar Sia II, on the other hand, saw a 75% increase in his net worth, which is now $700 million.

“Of the 10 listees whose fortunes rose, Edgar Sia II was this year’s biggest gainer in both percentage and dollar terms,” Forbes said.

“That rise was partly due to the successful IPO of his MerryMart in June; shares of the grocer have nearly doubled since the listing as quarantine measures boosted sales,” it added.

Forbes’ list was compiled using information from the individuals, stock exchanges, analysts, private databases, government agencies and other sources. Net worths were based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on August 28, 2020. Meanwhile, private companies were valued by using financial ratios and other comparisons with similar publicly traded companies.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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