In 1970s, his father’s business ran into trouble due to foot and mouth disease. All their livestock perished. After that, Syed Mokhtar moved on to the transportation business. After successfully acquiring a license for four Class A lorries in 1972, Syed Mokhtar applied loan in the amount of RM110, 000 from the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) to buy to Mercedes Benz lorries. From the start, he wanted to buy four Lorries, but the plan was not successful due to the technical problems, leaving him with two remaining permits. One of the Chinese traders did approach him to buy those permits, but he refused the trader’s offer and decided to return the permits to MARA.
After that, he had established a transportation company named Syarikat Pengangkutan Sentosa. He appointed Chinese clerk to be the manager. Fascinatingly, the company still exist until today. Started froma small business that offered transport service to haul rice, now it owns more than 40 lorries for various transport purposes.
In 1990’s, after more success followed behind him, he moves to rice trading business. He worked hard after he was awarded the rice trading license from Lembaga Padi Negara and was later warded successions of supplier contact government-linked corporations as partner with Zainal Hatim Hj Ambia Bukhary.
As his determination starting to skyrocket, he quickly moved to expand into diversification of other businesses. His next big move was in the logistic business, together with initial goal to transport their trading materials. Today, his empire has grown up into areas like plantation, property development, construction, engineering, power generation, infrastructure and ports.
He owns 51.8% share in Malaysia Mining Corperation via his wholly owned company, Syarikat Impian Teladan Sdn. Bhd. Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and Zainal Hatim personally owns SKS Ventures, which was awarded the task of building the site for 2100MW coal-fired power station at Tanjung Bin, Johor. Tan Sri Syed Mohktar has a 32% share in PERNAS through his own company, Syarikat Ratu Jernih. Syarikat Perdana Padu Sdn. Bhd. and Corak Kukuh Sdn. Bhd. Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and Zainal are Board Members of Syarikat Bina Puri Holdings Berhad, whereby, on his own, he has 7.34% share. Apart from these, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar and Zainal have varied interest in a number of companies, both in Malaysia as well as abroad.