Forbes’ names Villar PH richest for 3rd year

Published April 7, 2021, 3:57 PM

by James A. Loyola

Self-made real estate and retail tycoon Manuel B. Villar Jr. has been ranked by Forbes Magazine as the Philippines’ richest for the third year in a row.

The youngest Filipino to top the list of the country’s wealthiest, Villar was 69 when he first reached the top in 2019.

Manuel B. Villar Jr.

Others who have been named the Philippines’ richest include taipan Henry Sy Sr. who was number 1 for 11 consecutive years (2007-2018), Lucio Tan, John Gokongwei, and Jaime Zobel de Ayala who were all senior to Villar.

Forbes’ 35th annual world’s billionaires list ranks Villar at no. 352 in the global list with an estimated net worth of $7.2 billion. 

Enrique Razon Jr. is the second richest Filipino at no. 561 with a net worth of $5 billion, followed by Lucio Tan ($3.3 billion).

 Three tied for the fourth rank with net worth of $3 billion each. They are the late Henry Sy Sr.’s sons Hans and Herbert and Andrew Tan. They were followed by Sy’s siblings: Teresita Sy-Coson ($2.7 billion), Henry Jr. ($2.7 billion), Harly Sy ($2.7 billion) and  Elizabeth ($2.4 billion).

 Also in the billionaire’s list are Tony Tan Caktiong and family ($2.4 billion), Ramon S. Ang ($2.2 billion), Iñigo Zobel ($1.4 billion), Roberto Ongpin ($1.2 billion), and Lance Gokongwei ($1.2 billion).

Forbes’ global list reveals a record-breaking 2,755 billionaires, including 493 newcomers—unprecedented by any measure, especially in a year in which large economies around the world were hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. Altogether they are worth $13.1 trillion, up from $8 trillion on the 2020 list. 

“This was a record-breaking year in multiple ways, with more newcomers than ever before and more billionaires globally,” said Kerry A. Dolan, Assistant Managing Editor, Wealth.

He added that, “It was also the first time that the combined net worth of the world’s billions crossed into double-digit trillions. The pace at which huge fortunes have been created is astonishing.” 

In a comprehensive essay, titled “Operation Wealth Speed,” Chief Content Officer Randall Lanewrites: “While the initial reaction to the billionaire surge of 2021 will lean toward outrage, the underlying trends offer a road map to greater prosperity for all. Like anything else salvaged from a once-a-century plague, we just need to be brave enough to harness it.” 

Despite the turmoil that we’ve seen, Lane writes, people are defying the odds to overcome challenges, like Tyler Perry, who created his own studios in Atlanta because no one would give him a break in Hollywood, or Uğur Şahin, the Turkish immigrant to Germany whose BioNTech helped produce a Covid- 19 vaccine in months, rather than years—all embody economic dynamism. 

Soon-to-be former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos retains the top spot on this year’s ranking for the fourth consecutive year. Elon Musk rocketed into the number two spot, up from No. 31 on last year’s ranking. Bernard Arnault of LVMH remains at No. 3, followed by Bill Gates, No. 4. Rounding out the top five on this year’s ranking is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. This is the first year Warren Buffett has not been among the top five richest in more than two decades. 

The 2021 ranking features a record 1,975 self-made billionaires, who have built a company or established a fortune on their own.

There are 328 female billionaires, up from 241 in 2020. Asia-Pacific boasts the most billionaires, with 1,149, followed by the United States with 724 and Europe with 628.