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MANILA — Mall mogul Henry Sy and the tobacco king Lucio Tan remain the Philippines’ richest persons, while the number of the country’s billionaires is down despite increase in their total net worth, it was learned from the Forbes (Magazine) Philippines Rich List.

A surge in the economy complemented by a buoyant stock market increased the wealth of the Philippines’ 50 richest net worth by 12 percent to $74 billion from $65.8 billion last year. However, the number of billionaires dropped from 17 to 16.

For the seventh-straight year, Sy, the 89-year-old founder of SM Development Corp. (SMDC), Southeast Asia’s largest property firm, saw his fortune swell by $700 million this year to $12.7 billion or about P554.11 billion.

Sy’s estimated net worth is equivalent to 21 percent of the Aquino administration’s proposed P2.606-trillion national budget for next year.

Sy’s fortune, whose business interests range from retail, real estate, banking, gaming and leisure, was boosted by a surge in the country’s economy that came as a result of a strong domestic consumption.

However, the weak growth in local equities market reduced the value of the assets of the Sy family, causing their ranking in the list of Forbes world’s billionaires to slide from 68th in 2013 to 90th this year.

Meanwhile, Lucio Tan, the 80-year-old chairman of flag-carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL), is the country’s second richest person with $6.1 billion, lower than his $7.5 billion fortune last year.

The significant decline in wealth is due to a rough 45 percent drop in revenue from cigarettes, dreary forecast for that industry and aggravated by cigarette smuggling.

Earlier, it was reported that Tan wanted to buy back his 49 percent stake in PAL which he had sold to San Miguel Corp.

While Sy and Tan have long been on the prestigious Forbes list, there are four newcomers on this year’s list. They are Ricardo S. Po and family, who own canned-food company, Century Pacific Group (No. 21, $770 million); Dean Lao, co-founder of D&L Industries (No. 26, $625 million); Raul and Jose Concepcion and family, the twin brothers who took over their father’s manufacturing and food businesses, Concepcion Industrial and RFM Corp. (No. 34, $320 million); and pawnshop magnate P.J. Lhuillier of Cebuana Lhuillier, (No. 49, $180 million).

Others in Forbes top 15 list are (3) Enrique Razon Jr. with $5.2 billion; (4) Andrew Tan, $5.1 billion; (5) John Gokongwei Jr., $4.9 billion; (6) David Consunji, $3.9 billion; (7) George Ty, $3.7 billion;

(8) Aboitiz Family, $3.6 billion; (9) Jaime Zobel de Ayala, $3.4 billion; (10) Tony Tan Caktiong, $2 billion; (11) Robert Coyiuto Jr., $1.8 billion; (12) Puregold owners Lucio and Susan Co, $1.7 billion; (13) Yap family, Manila Bulletin owner, $1.475 billion;

(14) Former Senator Manuel Villar, $1.460 billion; and (15) Inigo and Mercedes Zobel, $1.2 billion

The list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and other sources. Unlike the Forbes billionaire rankings, this list comprises family fortunes, including those shared with extended families.