Lucio Tan, probably the most controversial of all the Filipino Tycoons, is the featured success story today. He was once the longest running richest man in the Philippines not until last year when his great rival retail tycoon Henry Sy overtook him in the throne.
Although some of us knew Lucio Tan got involved in various controversies as in the case of tax evasion, having a lot of children in different wives, and having close friends in politics like former Philippine Presidents Marcos and Estrada, he is still another epitome of success.
Let’s look another rags to riches entrepreneur story as we witness the success story of Dr. Lucio Tan.
Lucio Tan was born on July 17, 1934 in China’s Fujian province. His family moved to Philippines, in Naga, where he was a child. He worked his way through college studying Chemistry in Far Eastern University but quit before graduating, set up a business that deals with scrap in the late 1950s and and later on found a job in a tobacco factory where he was tasked to buy leaf tobacco in the Ilocos provinces.
Because of this experience, Lucio Tan started his own cigarette company named Fortune Tobacco in 1966. It was also during this time when his close friend Ferdinand Marcos was newly elected as President. The tobacco business was a success and it expanded introducing a budget brand ‘Hope’ in 1975. By year 1980, Fortune Tobacco was the Philippines’ largest cigarette manufacturer.
In 1977, Lucio Tan acquired from the Philippine Government the then bankrupt bank General Bank and Trust Co. (Genbank) for only P500,000 which was described by many as a sweetheart deal. It was later renamed to Allied Bank.
In 1982, Lucio Tan established and put up Asia Brewery where he used to his benefit, the Marcos ruling that lifted the ban on the establishment of new beer companies. Back then, it was the only brewery allowed to compete with the market leader San Miguel Corp.
In 1993, Lucio Tan secured control of the country’s airline carrier Philippine Air Lines (PAL).
While a lot of articles say that Lucio Tan benefited a lot from tax concessions and privileges that the Marcos Regime gave to him in exchange for a rumored 60% on all his shareholdings, on December 7, 2007, the Philippine Supreme Court affirmed the decision dismissing the state’s sequestration of Lucio Tan’s companies. The court’s decision says that “there can be no question that indeed, petitioner’s orders of sequestration are void and have no legal effect.”
Today, Lucio Tan is still one of the richest person in the Philippines ranking him as second to Henry Sy last year 2008 with a total asset of %1.5 Billion. His Lucio Tan Group of Companies now owns several industries that includes liquor (Tanduay Holdings, Inc. and Asia Brewery), tobacco (Fortune Tobacco), aviation (Philippine Airlines), banking (Allied Bank and Philippine National Bank), real estate (Eton Properties Philippines), and education (Univerity of the East).