Coronavirus wipes out some wealth from 12 Filipino billionaires

Ian Nicolas Cigaral - Philstar.com
Coronavirus wipes out some wealth from 12 Filipino billionaires
Seated: Elizabeth Sy, Felicidad Sy, Henry Sy Sr. and Tessie Sy-Coson, Standing: Henry Sy Jr., Hans Sy, Herbert Sy, Harley Sy.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Twelve of 15 Filipino billionaires ended up poorer this year than last year as the world’s richest join the rest of the world on reeling from the impact of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic, global media firm Forbes said.

For the second year, former senator Manuel Villar, whose business empire go from retail to property, topped the list of richest Filipinos with a net worth of $5.6 billion as of April. 

Villar was an outlier from a losing pack of billionaires, with his wealth up slightly from $5.5 billion in March last year. Globally, the former legislator ranked 286th out of 2,095 in the list. 

After Villar, seven Filipino business leaders who suffered a massive blow on their wealth, which Forbes directly attributed to the lingering impact of the COVID-19. “The world’s richest are not immune to the devastating impact of the coronavirus,” said Kerry Dolan, assistant managing editor of Wealth, Forbes.

“The drop in the number of billionaires this year reflects the economic impact the pandemic is already having,” he added.

It did not help that for its latest report, Forbes used the stock prices and exchange rates in March 18 in gauging the billionaires’ wealth, just as the global stock markets were plunging as the coronavirus pandemic put many investors on panic mode. 

Globally, Forbes observed that 267 people lost their billionaire status this year while a record 1,062 individuals have seen a drop in their fortunes. In total, 2,095 billionaires were included in the annual global list led by Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, who retained the top spot for the third year in a row with $18 billion net worth.

In the Philippines, after Villar, logistics magnate Enrique Razon came in second place among the wealthiest Filipinos. As of April, Razon was worth $3.4 billion, down from $4.8 billion last year, Forbes said. He placed 565th in the world.

Four members of the Sy business clan, who operates the country’s largest mall chain SM Supermalls, followed each other on the list led by SM Prime Holdings Inc. directors Hans and Herbert Sy, each worth $2 billion, down from $2.4 billion a year ago.

Harley Sy and Henry Sy Jr., chair of SM Investments Corp., the family’s holding company, were next on with $1.9 billion in net worth. They tied up with Andrew Tan, president of Alliance Global Group Inc., which owns Megaworld Corp., a property and retail company.

Another Sy followed, this time Teresita Sy-Coson, vice-chair of SM Investments. Sy-Coson’s wealth amounted to $1.8 billion as of April, down from $2.2 billion last year, Forbes said.

Another outlier to the trend of declining wealth followed. Former gaming magnate Roberto Ongpin saw an increase in wealth to $1.7 billion from $1.1 billion in just a little over a year. 

Lucio Tan, who operates flag-carrier Philippine Airlines, ranked 10th among the Philippine’s richest, although his net worth plunged to $1.7 billion from $4.4 billion a year ago. He tied with Jollibee Food Corp.’s Tony Tan-Caktiong and his family.

Elizabeth Sy of SM Investments had $1.6 billion in net worth. She was closely followed by San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang whose wealth also declined to $1.4 billion from $2.9 billion in over a year’s time. 

Insurer Robert Coyiuto, chair and chief executive of Prudential Guarantee & Assurance, maintained the value of his wealth at $1.4 billion. At the bottom of the list of Filipino’s richest was San Miguel’s Eduardo Cojuangco worth $1 billion.

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