Sy, Tan join Forbes' list of world billionaires

Posted at 03/11/10 11:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Only two businessmen from the Philippines made it to Forbes magazine's list of the world's billionaires: Henry Sy and Lucio Tan, Jr.

Published last March 10, Forbes' list of "The World's Billionaires" estimated Sy and family's networth at $4.2 billion (est. P192 billion), landing him on the 201st slot.

Tan and family, on the other hand, landed on the 582nd slot with estimated net worth of $1.7 billion (est. P78 billion).

Since the magazine's list of The Philippines' Richest 40 published last August, 2009, Sy's wealth has increased 10% from $3.8 billion. Tan's wealth did not change.

Jaime Zobel de Ayala was the third billionaire from the Philippines in the 2009 list, but he was not included in the 2010 cut-off

The 2010 list named 937 billionaires all over the world, with Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, 70, beating Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffet as the world wealthiest person on earth for the the first time.

Slim's fortune was estimated at $53.5 billion, edging out Bill Gates' $53 billion and Buffett's $47 billion. Gates held the title of the world's richest in 14 of the past 15 years.

Asia's richest

Neither Sy nor Tan made it to Asia's top 25 billionaires whose wealth ranged from $29 billion to $7 billion.

Of the 25 richest Asians, businessmen from Indians stood out as the region's richest. India has 10 out of the top 25, Hong Kong and Japan each have 5, while mainland China has just one.

Businessmen from China, however, have passed India in terms of number of billionaires who made it to the global list

Mukesh Ambani ($29 billion) is the richest in Asia and took the 4th slot in the world's richest list. He owns the conglomerate Reliance Industries, India's most valuable company. 

Following Ambani's trail in Asia's list of richest is controversial Lakshmi Mitta ($28.7 billion). He is the 5th richest in the world. Lakshmi controls Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steel maker, and is based in London.

Manila's richest

Sy beat Tan as the Forbes' richest man in the Philippines in 2009.

In the 2008 list of world's billionaires, Forbes ranked Tan at 785th richest with a net worth of $1.5 billion, while Sy was at the 843rd slot with a net worth of $1.4 billion.

Both are of Chinese descent with typical rags-to-riches stories.

Sy started his fortune with a small shoe store in Manila and built it into one of the Philippines' largest retail groups. Sy's son, Hans, currently manages SM Prime, which is the Philippines largest shopping mall developer with 36 malls.

Other assets of the Sy family are Banco de Oro Unibank, run by daughter Teresita Sy-Coson; and SM Investment.

On the other hand, Tan controls Philippine Airlines; Asia Brewery; banks in Manila and China, and property developments in Hong Kong.

Last February, Tan's largest cigarette maker, Fortune Tobacco, inked a joint venture agreement with multinational cigarette maker Philip Morris involving an undisclosed amount. The deal is considered another indication of Tan's concerns about succession.

Tan, who has several heirs and has had disputes with his most trusted brother and business partner, is considered to be cashing in as his health is rumored to be deteriorating.

The magazine said net worth is determined by tallying "stakes in publicly traded and privately held companies, real estate, paintings, gems, yachts and planes, plus hoards of cash." It said privately held companies are valued by coupling estimates of revenues or profits to valuation metrics for similar public companies.