Betty Ang, the cofounder of Monde Nissin—the Philippines’ largest instant noodle maker—and company chairman Hartono Kweefanus have lost their billionaire status after a two-day stock rout that wiped out 24.4 billion pesos ($436 million) in market value. The crash was triggered by reports that the company’s flagship brand Lucky Me! is facing product recalls in Europe and Taiwan.
Shares of the Philippine-listed company tumbled more than 9% on Thursday and Friday—it’s biggest two-day drop since its market debut in June 2021—to close the week at 13.04 pesos following reports of product recalls that were issued after regulators found traces of ethylene oxide in Lucky Me! instant noodles, rival brands and other companies’ products such as ice cream, sesame seeds and spices. The Philippine Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday that it is conducting investigations.
“We would like to clarify that ethylene oxide is not added in Lucky Me! products,” Monde Nissin said in a statement. “It is a commonly used treatment in spices and seeds to control microbial growth typical in agricultural products. These materials, when processed into seasoning and sauces, may still show traces of ethylene oxide. Rest assured that all Lucky Me! products are Philippine FDA registered and comply with local food safety standards and even the US FDA standards for ethylene oxide.”
The blockbuster initial public offering of Monde Nissin—which raised $1 billion in June 2021 in the country’s biggest-ever maiden share sale—minted two new billionaires who featured on the list of the Philippines’ 50 Richest, published in September last year. They were also on the Forbes’ World Billionaires list this year, each with a $1.2 billion fortune. Since then, the company’s share price has been declining as surging raw material prices crimped earnings. Its net profit dropped 13.5% to 2.1 billion pesos in the first quarter after falling 5.4% to 8.2 billion pesos in 2021.
While the stock is today rebounding from last week’s lows, Monde Nissin president Betty Ang’s net worth has fallen to $982 million from $1.2 billion when the Forbes World Billionaires list was published in April. Ang and her late father-in-law Hidajat Darmono, whose family owns Indonesian biscuit maker Khong Guan, cofounded Monde Nissin in 1979 as a biscuit manufacturer, before venturing into instant noodles a decade later.
The net worth of Ang’s brother-in-law Hartono Kweefanus, slipped to $982 million from $1.2 billion when the Forbes World’s Billionaires List was published in April. Other fortunes linked to Monde Nissin dropped. CEO Henry Soesanto—who is married to Hartono’s sister Monica Darmono (Monde Nissin’s treasurer)—dropped to $576 million from $795 million when he debuted on the Philippines’ 50 Richest list in September.
The wealth of brothers Keng Sun and Peter Mar, grandsons of Mar Chew, founder of biscuit maker MY San, slipped to $286 million from $410 million when they debuted in the Philippine rich list last year. The Mars acquired shares in Monde Nissin after they sold MY San to the noodle maker in two tranches—60% in 2001 and the remaining in January last year—ahead of the IPO.