The 3 Most Mysterious Filipino Tycoons
Say Henry Sy's name, and people will recognize him as the founder of local retail giant SM. They might even know that he’s the country’s richest person (it's a title he’s held for the past 11 years).
And that’s true for most of the country’s wealthiest people—there’s a big chance you’ve at least heard of their names, whether it’s because of their hard-to-avoid brands, their involvement in politics, or their attempts to sing a Christmas carol.
But of the 50 tycoons that make the Forbes 'Rich List' every year, there are a few whose names somehow remain unfamiliar to most Filipinos. They're so mysterious, in fact, that they don't even have their photos up on the Forbes database. Here are three of the most private and low-key tycoons in the rich list, and a bit more information about them from what is publicly available.
Monde Nissin Corp.
2018 net worth: $270 million
Betty Ang is the president of food manufacturing firm Monde Nissin Corp. While it has popular biscuit brands in Nissin, Voice, and Bingo, it is best known for its instant noodles brand Lucky Me!, which has been named the country’s most chosen brand from 2016 to 2018 by market analyst Kantar.
However, the widespread popularity of Lucky Me! does not translate well to the tycoon behind it, as there is next to no publicly available information on Betty Ang. Even Forbes recognized the tycoon's mysteriousness: In 2017, it published a short feature that discusses how little is known of Betty Ang and her family, where it said that they are even unsure about her age.
What little is known about her is that she is married to Hoediono Kweefanus, who belongs to an Indonesian family that also runs a food business in their home country. Various members of the family own majority of Monde Nissin, but not much else is known outside of that.
United Laboratories Inc. (Unilab)
2018 net worth: $700 million
Beatrice Campos is the widow of Jose Campos, who co-founded pharmaceutical firm United Laboratories Inc. in 1945 and grew with the help of Beatrice’s brother, Howard Dee. The company manufactures over 350 medicine brands, including such medicine-cabinet staples as Biogesic, Neozep, and Enervon.
As the Campos family’s matriarch, Forbes credits the family’s wealth to her, which in 2018 reached $700 million. But most of what is written about her is directed to her late husband, who was a close friend of former president Ferdinand Marcos. While he was a Marcos crony, Jose Campos was among the first who cooperated with the Presidential Commission on Good Government to return most of Marcos’ assets that were under his name. Old articles about Jose Campos mention that he is media-shy, a characteristic that may have extended to his wife.
Apart from Unilab, Beatrice Campos’ name also comes up in talks surrounding food manufacturing firms NutriAsia and Del Monte Pacific, as they both list her son, Joselito Campos, as an executive. In June 2018, NutriAsia made headlines as workers in its Bulacan plant were involved in a controversial strike that resulted in a violent dispersal.
D&L Industries Inc.
2018 net worth: $950 million
Dean Lao co-founded manufacturing company D&L Industries with his younger brother, Leon, in 1963—hence the name D&L. The family business eventually grew into one of the country’s largest firms in the chemicals industry, which made Lao the country’s 19th richest tycoon as of 2018.
The company that put Lao among the country’s richest is listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange, which means that the company, and by extension the Lao family, is on the radar of many local news agencies due to its required disclosures. Lao is the company’s chairman emeritus, having stepped down from his post as director only in 2016.
Like Campos, Dean Lao is much more private than other members of his family. As Dean is no longer a director, most of D&L’s press coverage is handled by his nephew, Alvin, who serves as president and CEO. More subtly, in an investor presentation found on D&L’s website, most of the Laos who are part of the board have a photo identifying them, but not Dean.