SINGAPORE - The 40 richest people in the Philippines saw their wealth grow over $13 billion to $47.4 billion this year, thanks to a booming remittance-driven economy that outperformed most of the country's neighbors, according to the latest issue of Forbes Asia.
The increase in wealth produced 15 billionaires, up from 11 a year ago-a result of an ongoing consumer boom, a surge in tourism and outsourcing, a stock market that gained 17 per cent in the past year, and economic growth of 6.4 per cent in the last quarter, the magazine said.
Henry Sy, 87, remains the richest person in the Philippines with a net worth of $9.1 billion, up $1.9 billion from a year ago, according to Forbes.
But the most impressive was Enrique Razon Jr., this year's biggest gainer, as the 52-year old tycoon saw his wealth surge by $2 billion to $3.6 billion, catapulting him four ranks higher to become the country's third richest person.
Took over at 27
Razon became a billionaire last year with $1.6 billion in net worth and made his first fortune in ports, taking over the family business, International Container Terminal Services (ICTS), at age 27.
He turned ICTS into one of the largest port operators in Asia, before expanding into Europe, North America and the Middle East.
Forbes said that much of Razon's jump in wealth this year was from his stake in Bloomberry Resorts, which had a public offering this May.
Bloomberry plans to open a resort casino on Manila Bay in 2013 that Razon hopes will position the country as a gaming destination alongside Macau and Singapore.
Henry Sy retains the top spot on the list, with control of the country's biggest retail group, which includes SM Prime, the Philippines' largest mall developer, with 42 malls.
No. 2 on the list is Lucio Tan with $4.5 billion, up $1.7 billion from last year, the magazine said.
Known as the Philippines' tobacco king, the 78-year-old billionaire owns part of Phillip Morris Fortune Tobacco, which has an estimated 80-per cent share of the cigarette market.
Other assets held by Tan include beer-maker Asia Brewery and Hong Kong-based Eton Properties. Tan also sold a 49-per cent stake in the holding company of Philippine Airlines to San Miguel Corp. for a reported $500 million in April.
Gambling is an appealing sector for other billionaires in the country, Forbes said.
PH's only private casino
Andrew Tan's Alliance Global, which is partnered with Malaysia's Genting, has the country's only private casino in Manila, Resorts World, which opened in 2010.
Andrew Tan is ranked No. 6 on this year's list with a net worth of $2.3 billion, up from $2 billion previously.
The Sy family is also getting in on the gambling action with its own Manila Bay resort and casino, scheduled to open next year.
Overall, 34 out of the 37 returnees on the list grew richer.
Robert Coyiuto Jr., who owns part of the power transmission outfit National Grid Corp., saw his net worth surge from $400 million last year to $1.3 billion, making him the biggest gainer in percentage terms.
There are three newcomers to this year's list: Lucio and Susan Co, a husband and wife team who joins the ranks of billionaires, thanks to last September's IPO of their hypermarket chain, Puregold Price Club.
They make their debut at No. 13 on the list and are worth $1.2 billion.
Another debutant is 38-year-old civil engineer Michael Cosiquien, who took his building company Megawide Construction public last year. Cosiquien is at No. 39 with a net worth of $150 million.
This year's qualification for the list was $140 million compared with last year's threshold of $85 million.
The full list of the Philippines' 40 richest can be found in the July 2012 issue of Forbes Asia, which is available on newsstands now.
The top 10 richest in the Philippines are:
1. Henry Sy; $9.1 billion
2. Lucio Tan; $4.5 billion
3. Enrique Razon Jr.; $3.6 billion
4. John Gokongwei Jr.; $3.2 billion
5. David Consunji; $2.7 billion
6. Andrew Tan; $2.3 billion
7. Jaime Zobel de Ayala; $2.2 billion
8. George Ty; $1.7 billion
9. Roberto Ongpin; $1.5 billion
10. Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.; $1.4 billion
Forbes said the list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and other sources.
Net worths were based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on June 8. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded. Forbes Asia