Henry Sy, Sr. (Chinese: 施至成; pinyin: Shī ZhìChéng; born December 25, 1924) is a Chinese Filipino businessman and the founder and chairman of SM Prime Holdings, the largest retailer and shopping mall operator in the Philippines. He earned his Associate of Arts degree in Commercial Studies at Far Eastern University in 1950. Acknowledged as the country’s "Retail King," he has come a long way from the modest shoe store he set up in Quiapo in 1946, to become Asia's biggest shopping mall operator with over 30 malls throughout the Philippines. He is the Philippines' richest man, gaining $3.7 billion in 2007, amid the global financial crisis. The huge gain was due to his holding company, SM Investments Corp., which has interests in Banco de Oro Universal Bank, inter alia. Forbes magazine's 2008 list of 40 wealthiest Filipinos, revealed the Sy family's net worth was $6.2 billion. Earlier, he was the second wealthiest individual in the Philippines, next to Lucio Tan, and (as of 2008) 843rd in the world. Sy is considered a tai-pan. The Sy group is the operator of Banco de Oro Universal Bank and owner of China Banking Corporation. In 2006, he bought the remaining 66% of Equitable PCI Bank, the Philippines third largest lender, in which he already had a 34% stake, and merged it with Banco de Oro Universal Bank in 2007. The merger created the Philippines' second largest financial institution with resources of close to $17 billion. Rumors say that the Sy family has a personal stake of $4 billion in these three banks, although there is no sufficient evidence to strongly substantiate that. Sy has recently sold his 11% stake in San Miguel Corporation, Southeast Asia's largest food and beverage conglomerate for $680 million. Henry Sy, Sr., was named "Management Man of the Year" by the Makati Business Club and was conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Business Management by De La Salle University-Manila in January 1999. He organized the SM Foundation Inc., which helps underprivileged and promising young Filipinos. Several of his children hold senior management positions in his companies, although he has groomed daughter Teresita Sy-Coson and his grandchildren Hailey Sy-Coson, Darcie Sy, and Josiah Sy as his successors. Sy's holding company, SM Investments Corp., has consistently been cited as one of the Philippines best-managed companies. On May 20, 2006, the SM Mall of Asia, built in the reclamation area of Pasay City, was opened to the public. It is the sixth-largest mall in the world. Sy got his start by selling smuggled shoes from abroad.
Henry Sy’s Company, SM, as many of you may already know, came from the hard work of Henry Sy, Sr. It is a rags to riches story that many of us can’t believe. His determination, his discipline and his thriftiness have produced an astute and street smart businessman who has influenced a lot of people. His perseverance during the different crises our country has gone through has made their active business pursuits possible for a half century. True, he was disappointed with the economy many times, but he never saw the reason to quit and instead pursued his goals relentlessly. He had many obstacles – both external and internal – in his business, and there were times he could not understand why things had to be so complicated for him to pursue his business objectives. It has been written that Henry Sy started from the bottom.
He came to the Philippines at the young age of 12, and worked in his father’s small sari-sari store more than 12 hours everyday to help him. It was located on Echague St., which is now Carlos Palanca Sr. St. in Quiapo, Manila. There, he devised ways to increase his income by developing small portions of products – much like the sachets we see today in the supermarkets. He was able to make multiple sales in...