Tycoon Henry Sy emerged as the wealthiest person in the Philippines, with his net worth jumping to $18 billion this year from $13.7 billion in 2016, as the economy continued to expand under the Duterte administration, according to Forbes Asia magazine’s 2017 list of 50 richest Filipinos.
Forbes Asia said the total net worth of the 92 year-old founder of SM was three times higher than his closest runner-up John Gokongwei, 91, of JG Summit Holdings Inc., whose wealth shrank to $5.5 billion from $6.8 billion last year.
Enrique Razon Jr., the 57-year-old owner of port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc. and gaming firm Bloomberry Resorts Corp., placed third with a net worth of $4.3 billion, up from 2016’s $3.5 billion.
Lucio Tan amassed $4.2 billion to place fourth, while Jaime Zobel de Ayala ranked fifth with $3.7 billion.
Rounding up the top 10 list of Philippines’ richest are David Consunji of DMCI Holdings with $3.68 billion, George Ty of Metrobank with $3.6 billion, Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee Foods Corp. with $3.4 billion, Andrew Tan of Alliance Global Group Inc. with $2.5 billion and Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp. with $2.3 billion.
Forbes Asia said seven of the 10 biggest dollar gainers had sizable interest in construction and property development to support the current administration’s thrust to improve infrastructure in the country.
The magazine said half of the 50 richest tycoons saw a reduction in their net worth because of volatile political conditions.
The net worth of businessman Alfredo Yao was reduced to $600 million as the share price of listed Macay Holdings dropped 26 percent on government’s plan to impose taxes on sugary drinks.
Edgar Sia, who was last year’s biggest gainer, fell to 21st spot from 17th place last year as the stock price of DoubleDragon Properties Inc. declined.
Meanwhile, businessman Eusebio Tan debuted on Forbes Asia’s list this year, as the share price of STI Education surged over 140 percent over the past year.
Forbes Asia said the strong economic growth of the Philippines was expected to carry into next year and would help Filipino billionaires to continue their brisk businesses.
“Especially benefitting are those tied to an infrastructure push by the Rodrigo Duterte administration, a program that will create highways, bridges, and subway systems, to name a few by 2022,” Forbes said.