Gov't lauds contribution of Henry Sy Sr. to Philippine economy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19) —Malacañang joined the business community in mourning the passing of Henry Sy, Sr., calling him "a pillar of the Philippine economy."

Sy, the richest man in the country and founder of the largest retailer SM Group, passed away in his sleep Saturday morning. He was 94.

"The Palace expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of SM Group Founder, Mr. Henry Sy Sr., as well as to the legions whose lives have been touched by him," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

He said the Filipino-Chinese taipan who also has stakes in banking and property sectors, "exemplified the hardworking Filipino," noting his rags to riches story that began with a small shoe store in Quiapo, Manila.

"A grateful nation respects and admires the man for his lasting legacy which he attributed to hard work," Panelo added.

READ: Retail icon Henry Sy Sr. passed away at age 94

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Sy’s biggest contribution was providing employment to millions of Filipinos.

“He made his billions working hard, first selling shoes, to build a current conglomerate of giant malls, real estate, banks, financial services, insurance, retail, and a dozen of other businesses,” he noted.

Senator JV Ejercito said Sy was “definitely a mover and a game changer of the Philippine economy.”

Sy topped Forbes Magazine’s 2018 list of the wealthiest people in the Philippines with a net worth of $18.3 billion or roughly ₱986 billion. He also dominated the 2017 list with a net worth of $18 billion.

Before his death, Sy — also known for his rags to riches story— had vacated his post as Chairman Emeritus of SM Investments Corporation, SM Prime Holdings, Inc., SM Development Corporation, Highlands Prime, Inc., and BDO Unibank, Inc. He was also Honorary Chairman of China Banking Corporation.