MANILA -- Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, a Philippine tycoon deeply involved in the country's politics, has died at age 85.
Cojuangco had served as chairman and chief executive of food-to-infrastructure conglomerate San Miguel, the Philippines' largest company by sales, since 1998. The company issued a brief statement on Wednesday saying Cojuangco had died the previous evening.
The businessman enjoyed close ties with former Philippine president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He fled with Marcos and lived in exile in California following the "people power revolution" that toppled Marcos in 1986.
Cojuangco returned to the Philippines years later and formed the Nationalist People's Coalition, standing as its presidential candidate in 1992. Cojuangco lost to Fidel Ramos, a military general, but the NPC remained a powerful political force in the country.
Cojuangco fought multiple legal cases in which he was accused of illegally amassing wealth during the Marcos dictatorship, but he was never convicted.
Despite occupying the top position at San Miguel, President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang has been calling the shots at the company for quite some time now.
In 2012, Cojuangco unloaded a substantial amount of shares to his associates, including Ang. The share sale made Ang -- the architect of San Miguel's diversification from food and beverage into energy and infrastructure -- one of the company's largest shareholders.
Cojuangco was also known as an avid sports fan, with San Miguel owning teams in the local basketball league.
"Thank you for your countless contribution to the Philippine Basketball Association and Philippine sports," the association said in a tweet.