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Philippine Billionaire Ricardo Po, Founder Of Century Pacific Food, Dies At Age 90

Billionaire Ricardo Po Sr.ā€”founder and chairman emeritus of Century Pacific Foodā€”passed away on Monday, his company said in a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

The self-made entrepreneur started Century Pacific in 1978 as a tuna canner that primarily exported its products before marketing its own flagship Century Tuna brand in the Philippines in 1986, according to the companyā€™s website. The company has since expanded into other productsā€”such as 555 Sardines, Argentina Corned Beef, Blue Bay Tuna and Birch Tree Milkā€”and generating record net sales of 48.3 billion pesos ($953 million) at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

Born to a poor family from Guangzhou, China, Po migrated to the Philippines with his mother in 1947 in search for greener pastures. He taught himself English and worked as a translator for other Chinese migrants in Binondo, the Chinatown district of Manila, before working us a journalist for a Chinese-language newspaper.

While he enjoyed his work as a reporter, Po said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2014 that he quit journalism to pursue higher-paying jobs. He then established his own advertising and marketing company, Cathay Promotions, which counted the late tycoon Henry Sy Sr. among its clients. Cathay designed iconic SM logo when Sy was starting his retail empire with just one store back in the 1970s. The retail, banking and property conglomerate still uses the logo until today. Ā 

After losing much of the fortune during the 1973 stock market crash, Po invested what was left into a shrimp packing business that exported shrimps to Japan. On the advice of his Japanese partners, he established his own tuna canning factory years later that came to be known as Century Pacific.

Besides his interest in Century Pacific, which has a majority stake in fast food chain Shakeyā€™s Pizza, Po also has interest in property development through Arthaland.

Po is survived by his wife, Angelita, and his four children: Ricardo Gabriel, Teodoro Alexander, Christopher and Leonardo Arturo. Christopher is Century’s executive chairman, while Teodoro Alexander is president and CEO.

With a net worth of $1.45 billion, Po (who shares his fortune with his family) was ranked No. 16 Ā the list of the Philippinesā€™ 50 Richest that was published last month.

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