Retail icon Henry Sy Sr. passed away at age 94

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Retail magnate Henry Sy, Sr. founded the SM Group. He was Chairman Emeritus of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., SM Development Corporation, Highlands Prime, Inc., BDO Unibank, Inc., and Honorary Chairman of China Banking Corporation.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 19) — Retail magnate Henry Sy Sr. passed away in his sleep Saturday morning, his family confirmed. He was 94.

Sy’s death was officially announced in a statement by the SM Group, but provided no further details.

“We are truly grateful for the outpouring of sympathy on the passing of our father, Henry Sy, Sr. May we respectfully ask for privacy today to give the family time to reflect and to finalize arrangements,” the family said in a separate statement.

Sy was Chairman Emeritus of SM Investments Corporation (SMIC), holding company of the country's largest retailer. The Sy business empire also has stakes in the banking, and property sectors.

The Filipino-Chinese taipan 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.

In another statement, SMIC Chairman of the Board Jose Sio expressed his condolences.

"He was a happy  man knowing that he left our world a better place to live.  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," he said.

Sy founded the SM Group and was Chairman Emeritus of SM Prime Holdings, Inc., SM Development Corporation, Highlands Prime, Inc., BDO Unibank, Inc., and Honorary Chairman of China Banking Corporation.

Business community mourns

SMIC mourned the loss of their Chairman Emeritus.

"It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the peaceful passing of our beloved Chairman Emeritus, founder and Tatang, Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. this morning. We join the Sy family in fervent prayer,” it said.

BDO Capital President Ed Francisco, in a message to CNN Philippines, said they felt sad but blessed to have worked with the renowned businessman.

"He was very wise and taught us to look after our customers and put importance on the integrity of people we deal with . I recall he would even pick up paper clips after our meetings as we could reuse them," he said.

Wilcon Depot President and CEO Lorraine Belo-Cincochan lamented the country's loss of "one of the biggest entrepreneurs."

"But his legacy, his philanthropic work, and his contribution in shaping our country will continue to inspire the generations to come...," Belo-Cincochan said in a statement.

Mang Inasal Founder and DoubleDragon Properties Chairman Edgar Injap Sia II said the late Sy inspired him and his work, and regarded him as a "truly notable man" from "humble beginnings."

"In fact I named my second son, who is now 17 years old, after him. I admire most his ability to see the future and execute his vision passionately. While we are many generations apart, his legacy will live on for many more generations after us," Sia said.

Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Alegria Sibal-Limjoco said Sy was an "utmost visionary."