The Philippines' richest man and founder of one of the biggest business conglomerates in the country, Henry Sy Sr, died Saturday aged 94, his company said.
‘Henry Sy Sr passed away peacefully in his sleep early Saturday morning,’ the SM group of companies, which he built starting with a shoe store in 1958, said in a statement.
No other details were available about Sy's death.
The Filipino-Chinese tycoon had topped Forbes Magazine's list of wealthiest people in the Philippines for the past 11 years. Forbes estimates his net worth at 19 billion dollars.
The SM group now has over 200 companies in retail, banking and real estate in the Philippines, including nearly 80 local shopping malls and six in mainland China.
Jose Sio, chairman of the board of the SM Investment Corporation, hailed Sy as a Philippine business icon.
‘He was a happy man knowing that he left our world a better place to live,’ he said in a statement. ‘He was an icon in Philippine retail, banking and real estate. Above all, he was a caring father and a God-loving man. I will miss him.’ Sy migrated to the Philippines in 1936 from China's Xiamen province. His father operated a small grocery in downtown Manila, but returned to China after they lost the business during World War II.
Sy remained in the Philippines and opened his first shoe store called Shoemart in 1958. The success of Shoemart led to its expansion into a full-line department store that opened in 1972.
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