The Philippines adhere to the free entrerprise system of doing business. Despite many problems,
businesses in the country are generally profitable. Although not as competitive as the other Asian countries,
many foreigners continue to invest in the Philippines.
The Philippine Stock Exchange is older than most of the other stock exchanges in Asia. Yet it is lagging behind in terms
of capitalization, perhaps reflecting the general competitiveness of the country.
More than 90% of all the business establishments in the country are small and medium enterprises. Yet a very large
chunk of the economic output are produced by large businesses which either belong to conglomerates or are owned by foreign
investors. Some government owned companies such as the National power Corporation, Government Service Insurance System, Land Bank
of the Philippines, and Development Bank of the Philippines. A cursory look at the top 1000 Philippine corporations reveals two
striking characteristics: 1) there are only a few large manufacturing enterprises which are mostly owned by foreigners and 2) several
companies belong to a few families which are mostly Chinese-Filipinos.
The following are the leading business groups (not in order):
- San Miguel group - partly owned by Eduardo Cojuangco who is the current chairman and CEO. It is the leading
manufacturer of food and beverages. It is now busy diversifying into the energy and telecommunications sector in addition to
its packaging, property, and banking units.
- SM group - controlled by the family of Henry Sy, one of the leading Filipino Chinese taipans. Its core business is in the shopping and retail
sector. It has diversified into banking, property, and hotel operation.
- Lucio Tan group - another Filipino Chinese taipan who built his conglomerate around Fortune Tobaco but has since expanded to include
beverage manufacturing, banking, airlines, and property.
- Metro Bank group - controlled by the family of George Ty, another Filipino-Chinese taipan. It includes financial services, property and car
- Ayala group - one of the oldest business groups in the country. Its businesses include banking and finance, telecommunication, property, water distribution,
- Gokongwei group - founded by another Filipino-Chinese taipan, John Gokongwei. A leading participant in the food, airline, retail, property and
petrochemical industries. It has divested its investment in San Miguel Corporation, textile, and commercial banking. It is now building up its savings
- Lopez group - one of the most powerful business groups in the country though its power has diminished a bit. It controls the largest power
distribution company along with one of the largest media organizations in the country. It has also investments in sugar, property, and electrical
- Yuchengco group - controlled by another Filipino-Chinese taipan. Its businesses include banking and insurance, construction, car dealership, and
- Campos group - controls the country's largest pharmaceutical company. It has substantial investment in property and food manufacturing.
- Aboitiz group - based in Cebu City, it is involved in electric power generation and distribution, banking, and flour and feed
manufacturing. It used to be a major player in the shipping industry but it has since scaled down its investment from it.
Other leading business groups to watch out are:
- Filinvest group - controlled by yet another Filipino-Chinese taipan Andrew Gotianun. Its main busineses are in property and banking.
- PLDT group - led by super-manager Manuel Pangilinan, it is busy diversifying from the telecomunication sector into technology, mining, and infrastructure projects.
- Megaworld group - led by an upcoming Filipino-Chinese taipan, Andrew Tan. It has its hands full in erecting high-rise
condominiums and developing mixed-use business districts.
- Jollibee group - controlled by Tony Tan Caktiong, another upcoming Filipino Chinese taipan. It is the country's largest fastfood chain which
is now busy expanding abroad.
- Phinma group - a little known but actually an old conglomerate which used to be a big player in the cement industry. It has sold its cement businesses
to foreigners and is now concentrating in property, tourism, energy, BPO and education. It still owns iron and steel manufacturing
facilities and financial services.