“To have lived a meaningful and productive life is such a wonderful thing, but to live a life that will be remembered for the wisdom it shared with others is admirable, and a blessing to the people it has touched.”

The late Sudono Salim also known as Liem Sioe Liong’s legacy remained for the world to emulate, and having been such an influential patriarch, the family members of the third generation remember his teachings. His grandchild, Axton Salim said, ‘He taught us to be humble, honest, disciplined, diligent, hardworking; also being wise, big-hearted, respecting of others, and always keen to learn’.

Liem Sioe Liong (16 July 1916 – 10 June 2012), was a Chinese Indonesian businessman. Also called by his initials “LSL,” Salim was born in Foochin, Fujian and emigrated to Kudus, Central Java in 1938. He was once considered the richest individual in Indonesia and was the head of the conglomerate Salim Group before turning over its management to his youngest son Anthony Salim (now #5 of Indonesia’s 40 richest people) in 1992.

His first business was coffee-making and trading, then quickly moved to importing and selling cloves for the popular Kretek cigarettes. The company also ventured in the peanut oil business. In a span of more than sixty (60) years, the Salim Group made investments in over 500 companies employing 200,000 employees. It acquired several businesses as it moved to expand to greater heights. Industries like textile, cement, flour milling, distribution, hotel and resorts, automobile, infrastructure, food, agribusiness, chemical manufacturing, retail, telecommunications, and banking are now included in Salim Group’s profile – Indofood, Indomobile Group, Gallant Venture, BCA, Indomilk, Bogasari, Nestle, Tiga Roda Indocement, lonsum, Segitiga Biru and Hilton Hotels and Resorts.


Pangilinan described “Oom Liem” (Dutch for “Uncle Liem”)


In an email interview after learning of the death of LSL, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan hailed the late Soedono Salim—his boss in Hong Kong-based First Pacific Group—as “Indonesia’s first industrialist” who never forgot his humble beginnings as an immigrant from China. The First Pacific Group is chaired by Salim’s son, Anthoni. Manny Pangilinan serves as the firm’s Managing Director and CEO.


Pangilinan recalled that he first met the elder Salim in 1978 while working for the American Express Bank in Hong Kong. “I was then syndicating a term loan for Cement Line # 6 of Indo Cement—the Salim Group’s first foray in the international financial markets,” he said. “LSL was not embarrassed to admit that he has failed at least twice in his business, only to recover eventually,” Pangilinan said. “As a result of his large, asset-heavy businesses, LSL is indeed considered Indonesia’s first industrialist.”


LSL’s Deeply-Rooted Principles


A combination of connection, serendipity and personal charm propelled him to become the wealthiest tycoon in Southeast Asia. But without the glamour and all, the man himself was deeply-rooted in his principles – a great quality he possessed that brought his business into fruition and made it successful. He valued hard work, perseverance, planning, and appreciation of others’ point of view.


He explained that he had a strong management team that saw opportunities; however, his approach was to choose the right people who also practice professionalism. LSL believed in teamwork and not dictatorship. He also believed in honesty. He said, ‘In business, you have to be honest; don’t lie or cheat, if people are good to me, I will remember it, but I do not like if people are not honest to me.  If you cannot be straightforward, it can be troublesome


Indonesia’s Top Conglomerate


The Salim Group is ranked among the top 5 biggest conglomerates in Indonesia. Some researchers have estimated the groups market cap at US$ 32 Billion to US$40 Billion. In the Philippines, the Salim group has majority interest in a number of blue chip corporations from Telco’s PLDT, Smart and Sun, utility provider Meralco and Maynilad, Tollways, Hospitals and Media. It is headed by Liem’s youngest son Anthoni Salim. Second son Andree Halim is the main shareholder of Singapore-listed bread maker QAF, which has a market value of more than US$350 M and makes and distributes Gardenia and Bonjour bread.





I will be delivering a one day talk in a Family Business Forum on March 9 at Elizabeth Hotel in Cebu. The event entitled, ” ON BECOMING A 100 YEAR OLD FAMILY BUSINESS: Building An Enduring Legacy of Stewardship is the second of a series of Family Governance advocacy initiatives organized by ExCED Institute and ICON Executive Search in collaboration with Wong+Bernstein Family Advisory. Second generation COO Franco Soberano of publicly listed and family led Cebu Landmasters will join me as co- speaker. The event is a follow through leg of the hugely successful program in Manila last year, where my co speaker was Kevin Tan, the second generation successor who recently assumed the CEO role of Alliance Global, the holding company of his billionaire father, Dr. Andrew Tan. Due to limited slots, please call Dennis Uyaco at 09177983118 to reserve seats. 


Prof Enrique Soriano is a World Bank/IFC Governance Consultant, Senior Advisor of Post and Powell Singapore and the Executive Director of Wong + Bernstein, a research and consulting firm in Asia that serves family businesses and family foundations. He was formerly Chair of the Marketing Cluster at the ATENEO Graduate School of Business in Manila, and is currently a visiting Senior Fellow of the IPMI International School in Jakarta.

He is an associate member of the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) and an advisor to business families worldwide, a sought after governance speaker, book author and have written more than 200 articles and publications, including two best-selling Family Business books (Ensuring Your Family Business Legacy 2013 and 2015).