June 23, 2011

The rich get richer...

I DON'T hold it against them though, although I do understand why there are a number who feel an intense amount of jealousy and envy towards the former's good fortune.

But many of the rich folk in the Forbes list of the Philippines' 40 richest, started virtually from nothing and just had the good sense to make terrific investments in business, the stock market and the like. After having been a business writer for most of my career, I've seen how the rich folk are and how they are wired differently from the rest of us mortals. They take risks, sometimes huge risks, w/c may sometimes mean gigantic failures, but also, when these risks pay off, they pay off very, very handsomely.

Being educated in the best schools is an asset, for sure, and having the right connections, but I think more than anything, it is really having the instinct and the guts for a profitable business deal. (One Chinese businessman also once told me, luck also has a lot to do it. Some are just born with the stars all properly aligned in their favor. Ah well...)

Of course, there are those who just inherited their wealth, but it also takes a lot of cunning to keep that wealth. God knows how many scions of rich folk have squandered their inheritances just because they made bad decisions in their personal lives and in business. What I've noticed though is that more and more of these scions have wizened up, and are some of the most hardworking CEOs I know. The era of the lazy bum rich kids are no more; many of them choose to work even if their trust funds are guaranteed to support them for the rest of their lives.

(Alphaland Chair Roberto Ongpin photo by Forbes magazine.)

Anyhoo, here's that list of the Philippines' 40 richest, with retail king Henry Sy Sr. still keeping the top spot. Many of those in this list have recorded higher net worths due to the stock market boom, even if the country's economic growth has slowed down in the first quarter of 2011.

A notable entry was ex-Marcos technocrat Roberto "Bobby" Ongpin posting the largest gain in net worth, which he attributes to his Atok Big Wedge investment. Btw, did you hear the story about Ongpin, called RVO by his staff, having been one of the first businessmen to hire Anna Nicole Smith as an assistant when he was still living/working in the States? O di ba? ;p (He is actually a goodlooking old dude, no?)

(Edgar Sia II, founder of Mang Inasal, photo by Phil. Star)
A noteworthy new entrant to the Forbes list is Edgar Sia II, who also happens to be the youngest on the list at 34 years old. Last year, he sold his Mang Inasal chicken barbecue chain to Tony Tan Caktiong’s Jollibee Foods Corp.

(UPDATE: Oh, as I write this, Reuters has just reported that PBCom has just accepted a takeover bid from Ongpin's ISM Communications.)

The top 10 are:

1. Henry Sy
2. Lucio Tan
3. John Gokongwei Jr.
4. Andrew Tan
5. David Consunji
6. Jaime Zobel de Ayala
7. Enrique Razon Jr.
8. Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.
9. Roberto Ongpin
10. George Ty

The complete list here.

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