April 20, 2018, 10:53 pm
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.07053 UAE Dirham
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1 Philippine Peso = 25.52333 Myanmar Kyat
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.02629 New Zealand Dollar
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1 Philippine Peso = 1 Philippine Peso
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1 Philippine Peso = 106.04187 Paraguayan Guarani
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1 Philippine Peso = 1.16816 Russian Rouble
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.01349 St Helena Pound
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1 Philippine Peso = 146.53351 Sierra Leone Leone
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1 Philippine Peso = 380.06338 Sao Tome Dobra
1 Philippine Peso = 0.16804 El Salvador Colon
1 Philippine Peso = 9.89015 Syrian Pound
1 Philippine Peso = 0.22917 Swaziland Lilageni
1 Philippine Peso = 0.599 Thai Baht
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.07736 Turkish Lira
1 Philippine Peso = 0.12961 Trinidad Tobago Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.56365 Taiwan Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 43.7488 Tanzanian Shilling
1 Philippine Peso = 0.50259 Ukraine Hryvnia
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1 Philippine Peso = 0.0192 United States Dollar
1 Philippine Peso = 0.54158 Uruguayan New Peso
1 Philippine Peso = 154.65719 Uzbekistan Sum
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Six heirs of a Filipino-Chinese billionaire

EVER since President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s foreign policy shift towards Beijing, China, heirs of a retail and property mogul behind Southeast Asia’s largest fortune “may have found a jackpot of their own.”

They’re building a supermall in China that is almost the size of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Their project signals increased exposure to the world’s biggest consumer market, according to Blake Schmidt in an article for Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Investors have come around to President Duterte since his election last May 2016, supporting a rally for Philippine equities and a surge for the stocks owned by Henry Sy’s SM Investments Corp as the company undergoes a generational shift. That’s made billionaires of his six children.

“Henry Sy was one of the more forward-looking tycoons in the Philippines in that he paid attention to succession issues probably better than most,” said Alejandro Reyes, a Manila-born visiting professor at University of Hong Kong’s politics department. “The Philippines is an oligarchy where you have a limited number of families who benefit when the economy is doing very well, and who control an inordinate amount of the economy.”

The heirs collectively have direct stakes of around 44 percent of SM, which has holdings in retail, property development, banking and logistics. The siblings -- Teresita, Elizabeth, Henry Jr., Hans, Herbert, and Harley -- have a combined net worth of $10.7 billion. Henry Sy, 92, is credited with the remainder of the clan’s share of the conglomerate, held directly, with his wife and through family-owned holding companies.

The family’s $17.6 billion fortune amounts to more than 5 percent of the island nation’s annual GDP and has risen more than $3 billion since Duterte’s victory, more than any in Southeast Asia.

The conglomerate is viewed by investors as a proxy for the fast-growing Philippines economy, according to Frederic DyBuncio, who assumed the presidency of SM Investments in April. 

Indeed, logistics company 2GO Group Inc., which counts Sy’s group among its largest stakeholders, has tripled in the past year, while property company SM Prime Holdings Inc., lender BDO Unibank Inc. and holding company SM Investments are each up more than 19 percent.

Teresita Sy-Coson, the eldest of the heirs, lauded Duterte in a recent interview with CNBC for his laissez-faire approach to the economy. She and her brother Hans have been in delegations that went with President Duterte to China for talks with President Xi Jinping, a sign that the descendants of the conglomerate’s China-born founder are well-positioned to benefit from the detente. 

Visits from Chinese tourists grew by more than one-third last year, a boon for the Sys’ tenant at the City of Dreams Manila casino resort.

Seven of the group’s more than 60 malls are in China. The conglomerate is building a residential project in Chengdu, with plans for Xiamen and Jinjiang, the latter being the birthplace of Henry Sy, who spearheaded the group’s push into China. A supermall in the works in Tianjin would have more than 500,000 square meters of floor space, rivalling that of the Pentagon. It was designed like a blossoming flower to symbolize growth and new opportunities, according to the company’s website. Still, China only accounts for about 2 percent of the group’s total revenue.

The expansion in China brings the fortune back to the founder’s homeland, and comes as Henry Sy attempts to execute an orderly handover of his wealth to a new generation, which includes the appointing of professional managers from outside the family. 

By involving all of his children as managers and giving them an ownership stake, he’s been more proactive than some -- even if he hasn’t publicly designated a successor.

***

Quote of the Day: “Be a Filipino always, but an educated Filipino.” – Anon.
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