Manila: Filipino billionaire Eduardo "Danding" Murphy Cojuangco Jr. died on Tuesday night following a long illness, Philippine media reported. He was 85.
Cojuangco, with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion, was the chairman and CEO of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), the largest food and beverage corporation in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
Ramon Ang, company president, first confirmed Cojuangco's demise in a report by Bloomberg early Wednesday morning. No other details were released.
SMC confirmed Cojuangco's death in a statement on Wednesday, June 17.
"For decades, ECJ guided the San Miguel Group, making a difference in the lives of so many of our employees, past and present. Values he lived by – malasakit (compassion), and sama-sama (unity), the idea that we either make it together or not at all – are at the heart of what it means to be San Miguel," SMC said.
"His contributions to our company's history are numerous and indelible. An agriculturalist at heart, he championed the development of rural Philippines and the setting up of our agro-industrial operations.... His impact on many other areas of Philippine life – sports, philanthropy – add to his rich and enduring legacy."
Cojuangco was a key ally of the late Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos. It was estimated that, at one time, his business empire accounted for 25% of the gross national product of the Philippines. As of July 2017, his personal wealth was estimated at $1.16 billion.
Cojuangco had a kidney transplant in 2013 but battled other illnesses as well. Philippine radio station DZRH said he died of lung cancer.
He was married to Soledad "Gretchen" Oppen Cojuangco of Negros Occidental, with whom he had 4 children.
Cojuangco was also the first cousin of the late former president Corazon Aquino and uncle of former president Benigno Aquino III. Cory Aquino's husband and prominent anti-Marcos leader, Ninoy Aquino, was assassinated in 1983.
San Miguel Corp. is a Filipino multinational publicly-listed conglomerate holding company. It started in 1889 with 70 employees. Today, SMC is the Philippines' largest corporation in terms of revenue, with over 24,000 employees in over 100 major facilities throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
San Miguel's manufacturing operations extend beyond its Philippine home market to Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia; and its products are exported to 60 markets around the world.