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Sy, Ayala, Aboitiz in Forbes' list of Asia's richest families

MANILA, Philippines – The Sy, Ayala, and Aboitiz families made it to Forbes magazine's "Asia's richest families" list released on Thursday, October 8.

The family of Henry Sy – the Philippines' richest man based on Forbes "50 richest list for 2015" and ranked 97th among the world's billionaires – was No. 13 among the 50 wealthiest business dynasties in the region.

With a net worth of $12.3 billion, the patriarch Sy worked at a young age for his family's convenience store. Later, he started a small shoe store in Manila and built it into SM Prime, the country's largest mall developer. The family's interests now range from banking to retail, and growth plans involve building "micro cities" around some of its existing mall properties. (READ: SM allots P80 billion for mall expansion)

The Sys also have a stake in privately-owned electricity firm National Grid Corporation, the country's power transmission operator. "Sy's children are all involved in management and meet weekly over lunch to discuss the business; their mother sometimes joins. Grandchildren are taking active roles," Forbes wrote.

The Zobel de Ayalas, with an estimated net worth of $4.22 billion, are ranked 35th on the list. The 181-year-old Ayala Corporation, now run by the seventh generation of the family, started off as a small distillery and is now one of country's largest conglomerates.

The oldest and diversified conglomerate in the country also serves as the holding company for publicly traded Ayala Land, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Globe Telecom, and Manila Water.

Seven siblings control more than one-third of the company: Jaime Zobel serves as chairman emeritus. His son, Jaime Augusto II, is chairman and CEO, while his other son, Fernando, is president and COO. "Three members of the eighth generation are also involved. The family's Ayala Foundation helps fund Ayala Museum in Makati, among other projects,"  Forbes wrote.

The Aboitizes ranked 44th on the list with a net worth of $3.6 billion. The family's Cebu-based, publicly listed conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) has interests in power, transportation, banking, food, and property.

AEV, founded in the late 1800s by Paulino Aboitiz, the son of a Spanish farmer, began as an abaca (Manila hemp)-trading and general merchandise business, and later moved into interisland shipping, transporting goods across the Visayas. In 1994, the family listed AEV on the Philippine Stock Exchange, but it retains private interests in construction and shipbuilding.

"Nineteen family members, mostly fourth- and fifth-generation, are involved in day-to-day operations. The family, known to hold reunions for 400-plus relatives, has a constitution and formal process for those descendants interested in joining the company and/or working their way up to management," Forbes wrote. Jon Ramon Aboitiz serves as AEV's chairman of the board.

Top 10 richest clans in Asia

Forbes wrote in the October issue of its Asia edition that family is at the core of many of the region's biggest and most far-flung conglomerates and some of its best-known brands.

The top 10 richest families in Asia are:

Wealth-building across generations

Forbes said families that were included in the list have built their fortune which has extended to at least 3 generations. The list also includes those who have gone separate ways in business or are entirely estranged, like India’s Ambani family.

Those with a $2.9 billion net worth were included, and valuations were based on stock prices and exchange rates as of September 25. Many of the family businesses are publicly traded.

"Nearly half of the richest families in Asia are of Chinese descent, yet none of the inaugural 50 is based in the mainland, where conglomerates are young, run by the first generation able to muster billions of dollars in wealth in an open economy," Forbes wrote. –