Despite a slowdown in the Philippine economy, the 40 richest Filipinos got richer this year on the back of a booming stock market, the business magazine Forbes Asia said on Thursday.

In “The Philippines’ 40 Richest" published in the magazine’s July issue, Forbes Asia said the wealth of the country’s richest personalities collectively rose to an all-time high of $34 billion, up from $22.8 billion in 2010.

“The Philippines’ economy grew only 4.9 percent in the first quarter of the year in part because of a drop in trade and lower infrastructure spending by government, off from 8.4 percent in 2010, but the country’s stock market is booming," Forbes Asia explained. 

“The stock exchange’s composite index is up 27 percent since last year, surpassing its 2007 benchmark," the magazine added.

Forbes Asia also said the number of Philippine billionaires grew to an all-time high as it more than doubled to 11 compared with last year’s five. The magazine recognized as new billionaires the port operator Enrique Razon Jr., who controls International Container Terminal Services, at No. 7 with $1.6 billion; and Jollibee Foods founder Tony Tan Caktiong, at No. 11 with $1 billion.

SM founder still on top

For the fourth consecutive year, mall developer Henry Sy holds the top spot with a $7.2-billion net worth, up from $5 billion. The 86-year-old tycoon owns one of the Philippines’ largest retail groups, SM Prime Holdings Inc. — also the country’s largest developer of shopping malls, according to Forbes Asia.

Lucio Tan continues to hold the No. 2 spot with $2.8-billion from $2.1 billion in 2010. Tan’s biggest asset, Hong Kong-based Eton Properties, is enjoying an increase in property values.

The ranking of 83-year-old John Gokongwei Jr. also remains unchanged at No. 3, with $2.4 billion from $1.5 billion. Gokongwei heads JG Summit, a conglomerate that has interests in airlines, telecommunications, real estate, banking, hotels, and power generation.

Forbes Asia said four new faces also made it to the list this year:

The founder of high-end property developer Century Properties, Jose Antonio, at No. 24 with $245 million; Eric Recto at No. 25 with $200 million; the founder of biscuit-maker Rebisco, Jacinto Ng Sr., at No. 35 with $115 million; and the youngest on the list, 34-year-old Edgar Sia II at No. 40 with $85 million.

Late last year, Sia sold his fast-food chain Mang Inasal to Tony Tan Caktiong’s Jollibee. 

Making it to the list

The business magazine said a minimum of $85 million is needed to make it to the list, up from $50 million in 2010. From the 2010 list, four did not meet the requirement, including Lourdes Montinola, whose family owns 41 percent of Far Eastern University, and Jesus Tambunting, who controls Planters Development Bank.

“The list was compiled with information obtained from individuals, stock exchanges, public documents, and analysts," Forbes Asia explained.

The magazine said that for privately held assets, it estimated what they would be worth if made public. For calculating all public net worth, Forbes Asia said it used June 6 stock prices and exchange rates.

Unlike the Forbes billionaires list, this ranking “includes numerous family fortunes shared by individuals and their children, grand children, and siblings," Forbes Asia said.

Forbes Asia’s
10 Richest Filipinos

1. Henry Sy; $7.2 billion

2. Lucio Tan; $2.8 billion

3. John Gokongwei Jr.; $2.4 billion

4. Andrew Tan; $2 billion

5. David Consunji; $1.9 billion

6. Jaime Zobel de Ayala; $1.7 billion

7. Enrique Razon Jr.; $1.6 billion

8. Eduardo Cojuangco Jr.; $1.4 billion

9. Roberto Ongpin; $1.3 billion

10. George Ty; $1.1 billion

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