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IMD and Lombard Odier recognize Ayala Corporation for its excellence, integrity and contribution to nation building

One of the oldest and largest business groups in the Philippines wins prestigious family business award
October 2014

Ayala Corporation, one of the oldest and largest business groups in the Philippines, was awarded the 19th annual IMD-Lombard Odier Global Family Business Award at the 25th Summit of the Family Business Network International (FBN-I) in Dubai.

Awarded by IMD, a top-ranked global business school, and by Lombard Odier, one of the main private banks in Europe, this prize is regarded by many as the most prestigious for successful family businesses. It recognizes the way in which such firms unite family interests with those of the business, and combine tradition and innovation while demonstrating a clear commitment to their local community. The award also serves as a platform for family businesses to exchange best practices and analyse the economic backdrop. Previous winners include world-class companies such as LEGO, S.C. Johnson, Hermès, Barilla, Yazaki Corporation, Merck, Odebrecht, Firmenich and Bel Group.

This year’s winner is Ayala Corporation, the holding company of one of the oldest, largest and most respected business groups in the Philippines. Ever since the company was founded 180 years and seven generations ago, its mission has been anchored in three core business values: integrity, long-term vision, and a high level of trust that empowers leaders.

Today, Ayala is a widely diversified conglomerate with leadership positions in real estate development, banking and financial services, telecommunications, electronics and information technology, water infrastructure development and management, and business process outsourcing. It also has new investments in power, renewable energy, and transportation infrastructure. In 2013, Ayala’s group-wide revenues were USD 7.1 billion and accounted for nearly 20% of the market capitalization of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Given the size and importance of its diverse businesses, the Ayala family strongly believes in contributing to the country’s national development agenda. In the words of Fernando Zobel de Ayala, President and COO from the seventh generation of the family:

“We consistently look for ways to give back to our country; through Ayala’s businesses, through the Ayala Foundation and through our individual efforts”.

Family unity has been crucial to steering the business successfully over seven generations. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman and CEO, explains:

“From the earliest days, we made sure that we stayed unified as a family, organized ourselves effectively, and remained attuned to the changing needs of the business.”

The resilience and sustainability of the Ayala family business reflects several related factors that impressed the Award jury:

  • Strongly rooted values and business principles that were never sacrificed for the sake of growth or profits.
  • Professional management structures, with many entities subject to the discipline of public markets without compromising family values and control.
  • A deep commitment to mutually beneficial, dynamically managed long-term strategic partnerships and to making Ayala a partner of choice.
  • A strong commitment to family leadership and stewardship, a concept that extended way beyond pure ownership.
  • A consistency of values across generations, including the need to prove oneself in the outside world.
  • A strong belief that contributing to the nation’s development agenda was in the family’s long-term business interest and that inclusion and sustainability were keys to success.
  • Well-planned and deliberate succession policies.

“This Award highlights the vital contribution that family businesses like Ayala make to the global economy,” said Mr. Thierry Lombard, Managing Partner of the Lombard Odier Group, a seventh-generation family firm, and Chairman of the Family Business Network International. “We want to recognize an outstanding company operating according to the very best practices and offering inspiration to its peers. Ayala’s exceptional standards show just what family businesses are capable of.”

IMD President Dominique Turpin said: “The Ayala story is close to two centuries old, and is both fascinating and impressive. Over seven generations, this company has provided numerous lessons for other family businesses to learn from, in particular the importance of long-term vision, a broader social awareness and an ability to adapt. I warmly congratulate Ayala on winning this year’s Award.”

Award Director and IMD Professor Benoît Leleux said: “Operating successfully on a large scale and across a wide range of sectors is a challenge for any business, requiring a constant awareness of shifting trends and market conditions. I am particularly impressed by the way Ayala has managed these demands over several generations while benefiting from the full range of the family’s talents. This is a special achievement that makes Ayala an extremely worthy winner of the Award.”