Filipino billionaires got richer despite coronavirus' lingering fallout — Forbes

Filipino billionaires got richer despite coronavirus' lingering fallout — Forbes

MANILA, Philippines — Over a dozen Filipino billionaires saw their fortunes grow this year, joining the rest of of the world's richest in accumulating more wealth at a time the coronavirus pandemic is pummeling the global economy.

For the third year, former senator Manuel Villar, who has built a retail and property empire, topped Forbes' list of richest Filipinos after his net worth grew to $7.2 billion.

Globally, Villar, 71, ranked 352nd out of 2,755 in the list that exploded roughly 30% compared to last year, with a record high 493 newcomers joining the world billionaires club. Altogether they are worth $13.1 trillion, Forbes said, up from $8 trillion on the 2020 list. 

After Villar, majority of rich Filipinos in the list managed to grow their net worth this year. There were names who are either new to the list or made a comeback.

"There were rapid-fire public offerings, surging cryptocurrencies and skyrocketing stock prices," Forbes said. "It’s been a year like no other."

To calculate net worths, Forbes used stock prices and exchange rates from March 5. That said, it was not surprising at all that Jeff Bezos, now worth $177 billion, was the world's richest person for the fourth straight year after share prices in Amazon rallied. Elon Musk took the second spot as his wealth grew to $151 billion on the back of a 705% climb in Tesla stocks.

At home, ports and casino tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. was the second wealthiest person in the country with a net worth of $5 billion. Taking the third spot was Lucio Tan, whose fortunes ballooned to $3.3 billion despite the collapse of his loss-making Philippine Airlines as the pandemic continues to show no mercy on the aviation industry.

The heirs of the Sy clan, who operate the country’s largest mall chain SM Supermalls, also saw their wealth grow led by SM Prime Holdings Inc. directors Hans and Herbert Sy. The two Sy siblings were worth $3 billion each and shared the 4th spot with Andrew Tan, president of Alliance Global Group Inc.

Harley Sy, Henry Sy Jr. and Teresita Sy-Coson tied for the 5th spot with net worth amounting to $2.7 billion each while Elizabeth Sy of SM Investments, who's worth a smaller $2.4 billion, shared the 6th place with Jollibee Foods Corp. founder Tony Tan Caktiong and his family.

With a net worth of $2.2 billion, San Miguel Corp. President and COO Ramon Ang placed 7th. He was tailed by two newcomers: Iñigo Zobel, cousin of Zobel patriarch Jaime Zobel de Ayala, and Lance Gokongwei, the only son of late tycoon John Gokongwei. 

Ricardo Po and his family, owners of food canner Century Pacific which was one of the few pandemic winners, and Edgar Sia II, who bucked pandemic uncertainties with his recent blockbuster initial public offerings, debuted in the Forbes' list. They tied for the 17th spot with net worth of $1.1 billion each.

On the flip side, former gaming magnate Roberto Ongpin was an outlier after his wealth sagged to $1.2 billion. He shared the 9th spot with Gokongwei.