Sy family creates new generation of business innovators, makes it to Forbes’ list of 50 richest families in Asia with Zobel




By Madelaine Miraflor 

Sy family has emerged as one of Asia’s wealthiest business dynasties that have successfully produced new generation of business innovators, which could be a top contributing element to the firm’s solid status at Forbes Magazine’s list of 50 richest families in the region.

To be exact, two families based in the Philippines have appeared on the this year’s  list of Asia’s 50 Richest Families, which is a snapshot of wealth using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of markets on November 3, 2017.

Henry Sy Sr.

In coming up with the list, private companies were valued by using financial ratios and other comparisons with similar publicly traded companies.

To qualify, a family’s wealth must be rooted in Asia and participation in building that fortune has to extend at least three generations.

The first Filipino family that made it to the list again is the one that is led by none other than Henry Sy, who has also been the Philippine’s richest man for so many years.

At top nine, Sy family has a combined net worth of $20.1 billion, according to Forbes.

“The family’s SM Investments Corp. is now the Philippines’ largest retailer, with over 200 outlets. His (Sy’s) six children are all involved in management, and his grandchildren also have active roles,” the magazine said.

At one point, Forbes also noted how Asia’s wealthiest business dynasties on the list have remained relevant and successful by producing new generations that push the company in often surprising directions.

“Some young scions are even charting their own paths away from the family business. One example is 29-year old Howard Sy, a grandson of Henry Sy, the patriarch of the Philippines’ richest family,” Forbes said.

A former investment analyst, Sy started a 24-hour self-storage company called StorageMart a year ago, anticipating that the country’s condominium boom would create a demand for storage space.

With an initial investment of about a half a million dollars, it now operates two facilities in Metro Manila and boasts 100 customers.

“It cost me my entire personal life savings … plus three and a half years of my analyst salary,” the younger Sy told Forbes Asia.

Meanwhile, Zobel of the Philippines, who is the family behind the country’s oldest conglomerate Ayala Corp., is also one of the richest families in Asia for having a net worth of USD6.13 billion.

According to Forbes, seven siblings control more than one third of Ayala Corp., which is now run by members of the seventh generation.

The business started as a small Manila distillery and is now a holding company for Ayala Land, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Globe Telecom and Manila Water.

To date, the collective wealth of Asia’s 50 richest families on the list are worth a record $699 billion, up 35 percent from last year.

The ticket to entry this year’s list was $5 billion, some $1.6 billion more than in 2016. Forbes noted that some families like the Aboitiz clan of the Philippines has failed to make cut.

Overall, nearly half of the richest families in Asia are in China, yet none of 50 we ranked this year are based in the mainland, where conglomerates are young, run by first and second generations who were able to muster billions of dollars in wealth in an open economy.

“The cascading wealth of Asia’s very richest active tycoons is reshaping the ranks of even this legacy-driven list. Because of India’s size, the Ambanis can never be as dominant there as Samsung’s Lees have been in Korea. But with Mukesh’s next generation establishing a presence at the Reliance Jio telecom operation, this story could play out for years,” Tim Ferguson, Editor of Forbes Asia, said.

India’s Ambani family tops 2017 Forbes list of Asia’s Richest Families for the first time with a net worth of US$44.8 billion.

The Ambani family is this year’s biggest gainer in dollar and percentage terms. Their net worth rose by $19 billion as shares in Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate Reliance Industries soared in the past year due to better refining margins and the demand produced by its telecom arm, Reliance Jio. Since its launch in 2016, Jio has notched up close to 140 million subscribers.

Mukesh Ambani’s younger brother Anil runs Reliance Communications. The Ambani family supersedes the Lees of the Samsung empire to claim the No. 1 spot.

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