Forbes magazine names Henry Sy as richest Filipino

Shopping-mall mogul Henry Sy has become the Philippines’ richest man after amassing $1.4 billion in the past year, while his peers were hit by the global financial crisis, The fortune that Sy made was the “biggest gain in absolute terms” of the country’s wealthiest 40 families, who saw their collective wealth plunge 18 percent amid the world credit turmoil, Fortune magazine said in a statement.

Forbes said the Sy family was now worth $3.1 billion, vaulting from second place to first. The low-profile 83-year-old and his family control SM Investments, which owns stakes in a dozen companies, including the nation’s second largest bank.

Sy started off selling shoes to American GIs in the Philippines in 1958. From one store known as Shoe Mart, he built a multi-billion dollar empire.

Today he is Asia’s biggest shopping mall operator with 30 mega malls throughout the Philippines.