[Erratum: SMC is the parent company of SMC SLEX Inc., which operates the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) — not the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) — as erroneously reported in the earlier version of this article. The error is regretted.]
Manila: Ramon See Ang, 69, is perhaps the Philippines’ most significant corporate figure today.
It was in 2002 when he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), the country’s market-leading conglomerate.
Today, two decades later, Ang is alternately called the Asian country’s “king” of mergers and acquisitions, and infrastructure barron, having built one of the longest elevated highways in the world, the "Manila Skyway", among others.
With a net worth estimated by Forbes at $3.3 billion, he’s not the richest Filipino, a list topped by property magnate and former Senate president Manuel Villar Jr. But Ang has been remarkably successful in his own right.
The father of seven, who also goes by his initials RSA, Ang is an engineer by training and rose from the ranks. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Far Eastern University (FEU) in Manila.
While in business, he wears many hats, admired for his strategic moves, he is also known for his down-to-earth demeanour and philanthropy.
In a 2019 speech, Ang offered a simple advice to fellow Filipino: practice kindness and humility each day to achieve a better Philippines. “Be kind and humble…every single day as this will make the Philippines a better country,” Ang said in a speech read for him by his son Jomar Ang.
But he is best known for being the driving force behind SMC’s rapid expansion.
SMC has since diversified from beverages to infrastructure and power, fuel and oil, cement, property, banking and international expansion.
The Manila-based conglomerate — originally founded in 1890 — has seen remarkable growth over the past two decades with Ang at the helm.
Key moves: Major player, employer
Ang’s moves, driven by a remarkably long-term foresight, have gained much admiration.
SMC is an important and influential conglomerate in the Philippines — it has a significant footprint in various aspects of the country's economy and society.
As one of the largest and most diversified companies in the Philippines, SMC plays a crucial role in driving economic growth and development.
The company operates in various sectors and is a major employer, providing jobs to 45,522 (2022), with revenues of Php1.5 trillion ($26.78 billion).
45,522number of employees of San Miguel Corp and its subsidiaries (2022)
Its operations span a wide range of industries, including key sectors such as food and beverages, packaging, energy, infrastructure, telecoms, manufacturing, construction, logistics, retail, and other sectors. The company's presence contributes to reducing unemployment rates and improving livelihoods for many individuals and families in the Asian country.
Raising San Miguel stakes
Last week, Ang bumped up his SMC shares. The move was unveiled in a mandatory market filing, which showed he’s increasing his stake to over one-third in Top Frontier Investment Holdings, SMC’s parent company, where he is both president and CEO.
Far East Holdings, which Ang owns, will subscribe to 45 million shares in Top Frontier at 241.42 pesos ($4.32) per share, Top Frontier said in a filing to the stock exchange Friday (June 2, 2023).
That price — more than double the stock’s closing price on Thursday — values the acquisition at Php10.86 billion (about $1934 million), raise Ang’s interest to around 35 per cent, Bloomberg reported.
Php 1.5SMC's 2022 revenues in trillion pesos ($26.78 billion)
Under Ang, SMC made these notable moves:
To further boost its market position and increase the size of its portfolio, Ang oversaw SMC's acquisition of several companies. The purchase of a majority share in Philippine Airlines (PAL) in 2010, which enabled SMC to join the aviation sector, and the purchase of a stake in Petron Corp, the biggest oil refining and marketing company in the Philippines, in 2012, are a couple of important purchases.
Ramon Ang founded SMC's infrastructure business after realising the sector's potential for expansion. Major infrastructure undertakings by the corporation included the development and management of toll roads, airports, and other projects involving transportation. See more below about this.
Ang drove San Miguel’s entry into the power generation industry. To meet the rising demand for electricity in the Philippines, the corporation invested in new power plants and renewable energy initiatives, such as wind farms and solar generating facilities.
The company has undertaken projects to increase the capacity of its existing power plants and has also been acquiring new power assets to enhance its overall generation capacity. (More on this below)
San Miguel made steps to broaden its reach outside of the Philippines under Ang's direction. The company sought out worldwide opportunities and made investments in companies and endeavors in its immediate neighborhood as well as in other areas, such as Southeast Asia and Australia.
Through SMC, Ang has been active in a number of charitable endeavours. In the Philippines, the corporation has contributed to community development initiatives, educational initiatives, and disaster relief operations.
Ang has contributed to the advancement of education in the Philippines, making donations to educational institutions, providing opportunities for students and enhancing the quality of education in the country.
In times of emergencies, Ang has shown a commitment to helping affected communities. SMC, under his leadership, has provided aid and support to disaster-stricken areas, including donations of food, medicine water, and other essential supplies.
He has been involved in supporting healthcare and medical initiatives in the Philippines — donations to hospitals, medical equipment provision, and support for medical missions and programs aimed at improving access to healthcare, particularly in underserved areas. He is also actively involved in sports development, by sponsoring various sports events and providing support to athletes and sports organisations.
The Filipino billionaire is not done yet. His moves will be a closely watched sub-plot of the Philippines’ economic saga.
His qualities — strong leadership skills, entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to innovation, strategic long-term foresight, bold business decisions — will continue to be one of the key assets for SMC story going forward.
Ramon Ang: A timeline
1954: Ramon Ang was born on January 14 in Manila, Philippines.
1974: He graduated from Far Eastern University (FEU) in Manila, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.
1975: Ang began his professional career as a production engineer in United Coconut Chemicals, Inc., a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
1984: He joined San Miguel Corporation as a plant manager.
1998: Ang became the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of San Miguel Corporation.
2002: Appointed President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of San Miguel Corp. conglomerate.
2010: He led San Miguel Corporation's acquisition of a majority stake in Philippine Airlines (PAL), the country's flag carrier, and took on the role of President of PAL Holdings, Inc.
2012: Ramon Ang expanded San Miguel Corporation's business interests by acquiring a stake in Petron Corporation, the largest oil refining and marketing company in the Philippines.
2013: Ang initiated the development of San Miguel Corporation's infrastructure arm, which undertook various projects in the transportation and infrastructure sectors, including toll roads and airport development.
2018: He stepped down as President and CEO of San Miguel Corporation but remained as its Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Vice Chairman of the Board.
2021: Ang continues to be actively involved in SMC’s operations, overseeing its diverse business interests in industries such as food and beverages, power generation, infrastructure, oil refining, and more.
2022: SMC reports earnings of Php1.5 trillion, up 60 per cent from the Php941 billion it earned in 2021, and outperforming the 2019 record of Php1 trillion.
SMC’s $1.874-billion takeover of Eagle Cement in 2022 was also the biggest mergers and acquisitions deal, gaving it control of nearly 100 percent of the country's third-largest cement company ahead of plans to take the firm private, according to PwC Philippines.
SMC has developed and expanded the Skyway System, a network of elevated expressways in Metro Manila. The Skyway System eases traffic congestion and improves connectivity within the metropolitan area. It includes the Skyway Stage 1, 2, and 3, which provide elevated expressway connections to key areas of Metro Manila.
South Luzon Expressway (SLEX):
SMC is the parent company of SMC SLEX Inc., which operates the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) — connects Metro Manila to Calabarzon, a sprawling agro-industrial enclave spanning the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon. On May 2, 2010, the expressway's operations and maintenance was transferred to the South Luzon Tollways Corporation (SLTC) and Manila Toll Expressway Systems (MATES), a subsidiary of SMC Infrastructure.
Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX):
Private Infra Development Corp (PIDC), founded in 2008, is a subsidiary of SMC, and is the concessionaire for the 89-km Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), connecting Tarlac City in central Luzon to Rosario, La Union. TPLEX is linked to the 84-km North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), operated by NLEX Corp, a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC). This has greatly shortened travel time for motorists from Balintawak in Manila to Baguio City in northern Philippines.
Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR):
SMC subsidiary STAR Tollway Corporation operates and maintains the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR), a 42-kilometer toll road connecting Santo Tomas, Batangas to Lipa City. It provides a faster and more convenient route for motorists in the region.
SMC is involved in the construction and development of the Metro Rail Transit Line 7 (MRT-7). Once completed, MRT-7 will provide an elevated rail system linking Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, improving public transportation options in the area.
New Manila International Airport (NMIA):
SMC has also taken on the ambitious project of building a new international airport in Bulacan, known as the New Manila International Airport (NMIA). This project aims to alleviate congestion at the existing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and boost air travel capacity in the country.