Rich List: Thai wealth on the steady rise

Thailand's billionaires are unfazed by the short-lived military coup, seeking more investment deals and strategic partnerships outside the country.
Dhanin Chearavanont
Dhanin Chearavanont

A military coup in Thailand last year imposed a degree of political stability but discouraged tourists unfamiliar with the frequency of the occurrence in the country’s history. Economic growth sank to only 0.7% in 2014, as hotel and entertainment and hotel revenues collapsed while exports struggled amid subdued global demand.

In this environment, tycoons who control companies that service domestic consumers fared best.

Ahead of the pack and sustaining his position on FinanceAsia's Rich List from the previous year, is Dhanin Chearavanont (10), is boss of agribusiness conglomerate Charoen Pokphand (CP) and controlling shareholder of Ping An Insurance since 2013. He continued to make deals in 2014, forming a partnership with Japan’s Itochu to buy a 20% stake in China’s Citic Group for $10.1 billion and he is rumoured to be interested in UK-supermarket chain Tesco’s Thai businesses.

A brief boycott of CP’s 7-eleven convenience stores for alleged uncompetitive practices barely dented Dhanin’s his bottom line but perhaps made him more sensitive to public opinion.

ThaiBev’s head Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi (12) is also still hungry to strike deals within the region. His triumphant, albeit expensive, victory in the bidding war for Singapore beverage and
property group Fraser & Neave has fuelled his ambitions rather than settled them.

Thai Beverage’s strong share price performance in 2014 increases Charoen’s bargaining power for his most recent venture, a $1 billion bid for Vietnam brewer Sabeco. He aims to double ThaiBev’s revenues to $10 billion by 2020, with half earned from overseas markets.

Krit Ratanarak (59), whose family controls Thailand’s second biggest cement producer Siam City Cement, suffered from his exposure to the flagging media sector. Advertising revenues for his Bangkok Broadcasting & TV fell about 15% last year, a victim of the sluggish economy.

Another media magnate, Vichai Maleenont (73), was also hurt by reduced advertising spending, as well competition from new TV digital broadcasters while incurring large costs building out
the digital channels of his own BEC World.

Meanwhile, Anant Asavabhokin (68) added to his wealth by listing a retail REIT called the LH Shopping Centres Leasehold Real Estate Investment Trust, moving core assets including the Terminal 21 shopping mall from his Land & Houses

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