Can you guess who is the most richest man in the Philippines?
If you’re a Filipino, one name comes to mind: Henry Sy. Yes. He’s still the country’s wealthiest person – year after year.
According to Forbes magazine’s billionaire list for 2014, the mall tycoon Henry Sy is the richest man in the country and 97th most wealthiest man in the world. In 2013, Sy managed to combine his assets under one – SM Prime Holdings, bringing its market cap to $9.3 billion.
That’s a lot of money!
What’s more, one of his ventures, called SM Land just landed a contract to reclaim land just beside Mall of Asia, arguably one of the largest shopping malls in the world.
When someone says “land reclamation”, it means the process of creating new land from the ocean. The last time I checked, it happened in the Philippines in 1977 in Manila Bay. That very place is where the SM Mall of Asia was built.
While Henry Sy is still the wealthiest person in the Philippines, his fortunes actually dropped this year by $1.8 billion. This is because one of his firms, called SM Investments had its shares tumbled by around 30% last year. As a result of that, he became the 97th richest man in the world, down from 67th last year.
Henry Sy was born in Xiamen, China to a poor family in the 1920s.
When they immigrated to the Philippines, his first entrepreneurial venture was to sell rejected shoes from Tondo. In 1958, he had enough money to establish a small store in Quiapo, Manila, still shoes. This marks the beginning of SM Prime Holdings, the company he still owns today and the reason why he has so much net worth.
He went on to establish other ventures, including SM Investments Corporation which has interest in some banks. His bread and butter though is still the SM Shopping Malls which has 47 branches in the Philippines alone and a couple of others in China.
Together with Sy, 9 other Filipinos made it to Forbes’ Billionaire List. What’s interesting is that most of them is of Chinese Descent. This include Lucio Tan, John Gokongwei, and George Ty. Tan himself consistently ranks among the world’s riches since the early 2000s. Here is the list of the top ten billionaires in the Philippines according to Forbes Magazine:
- (#97) Henry Sy & family $11.4 B
- (#227) Lucio Tan & family $6.1 B
- (#319) Andrew Tan $4.7 B
- (#354) Enrique Razon, Jr. $4.2 B
- (#388) John Gokongwei, Jr. $3.9 B
- (#483) David Consunji $3.3 B
- (#764) George Ty & family $2.3 B
- (#1046) Tony Tan Caktiong & family $1.7 B
- (#1154) Robert Coyiuto, Jr. $1.5 B
- (#1565) Andrew Gotianun $1 B