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The Billionaire Series: Henry Sy

The Billionaire Series: Henry Sy

Almost every Filipino, if not all Filipinos have stepped into an SM mall. We grow up going to malls, eating out in restaurants, buying new clothes and shoes in malls such as ShoeMart. 
Let’s get to know one of the richest men in the Philippines today – learn from his humble beginnings – how he spotted an opportunity by providing shoes after the war. Know why he was once quoted with what he said, “I don’t give up easily.”
Part 1 Interview of Ces Drilon with Henry Sy
Part 2 Interview of Ces Drilon with Henry Sy

Here’s a short summary based on an article by Entrepreneur Philippines Magazine: 
Henry Sy: From a Poor Immigrant to Shopping Mall King
June 2003 Issue of Entrepreneur Philippines
Wilson Lee Flores

In 1936, the 12-year old Henry Sy migrated to Manila from the village of An-Khue in the Jinjiang county of Fujian province, south of China. He wanted to go to school and he successfully completed grade school in 5 years. He recounted, “I used second hand books and bought only a few pieces of pad paper at a time.”

After the war, it was a booming buy and sell business since supply was inadequate. He returned to school in the early 1950s at the FEU in Manila with a degree in Commerce but was pressured to go back to business to sustain momentum. In 1999, De La Salle University conferred on him a doctorate in business management. 
In 2002, he tapped Asia’s wealthiest billionaire, Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing to invest in the Philippines trough a joint venture between SM Group and Watsons. 

From the SM Investments official website:

HENRY SY, The Retail King
November 28, 2011
Manila Standard By Ma. Karenina Patac

Chinese-Filipino businessman Henry Sy, founder of SM Group and chairman of SM Prime Holdings, earned his Associate of Arts degree in Commercial Studies at Far Eastern University in 1950. Acknowledged as the country’s “Retail King,” he set up a modest shoe store in Quiapo, Manila in 1946 then expanded his business until he became the biggest shopping mall operator with over 41 malls throughout the Philippines.

Sy is known as 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. 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.

Considered as a taipan, Sy’s group is the operator of Banco de Oro Universal Bank and owner of China Banking Corp. In 2006, he bought the remaining 66 percent of Equitable PCI Bank, the Philippines’ third largest lender, in which he already had a 34-percent stake, and merged it with Banco de Oro Universal Bank in 2007. The merger created the country’s second largest financial institution with resources of dose to $17 billion.

In 1999, Sy was named “Management Man of the Year’ by the Makati Business Club and was confirmed an Honorary Doctorate in Business Management by De La Salle University-Manila in January that year.

Sy, who was named as the first Chinese-Filipino recipient of the PRA President’s Award in 2005 and PCE Big Brother of Filipino Entrepreneurs award in 2006, organized the SM Foundation Inc., which helps poor and promising young Filipinos.

SM Investments Corp. also has consistently been cited as one of the Philippines best managed companies. Among his many business interests, Sy served as president and chairman of the board of SM Keppel land Inc. of SM Development Corp., Keppel Philippines Holdings Inc. and SM Land Inc. He is also an advisor to the Board of China Banking Corp.

He serves as chairman emeritus of Banco De Oro Unibank Inc., chairman of the board at Fortune Cement Corp. and First Asia Realty Development Corp.

Sy also served as director of the Republic Glass Holdings Corp. from 1995 to December 2007.

The videos above show how much devoted Henry Sy is to his business, that at his age, he still does rounds of checks around SM Mall of Asia to inspect and observe business operations. He has gone through painful experiences when their stores were burned down and looted when he was young – but he did not stop from the failures and he tried again. 
From a shoe-retailing store in Carriedo to the biggest mall in the Philippines in Pasay, Henry Sy is indeed one of the most enduring business tycoons in the country who has made great things happen for the retailing business providing jobs to a significant number of our fellow Filipinos. For SM to have it all, he’s given his all – his love and passion – to it.
Credits to Entrepreneur.com.ph, ManilaStandardToday.com, SMInvestments.com, Youtube.com and ABS-CBN.

Do you want to read more success stories? Read on The Billionaire Series:

The Billionaires Series: Edgar Sia II of Mang Inasal
The Billionaires Series: Joseph Calata
The Billionaires Series: Manny Pangilinan

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