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Thailand’s rich but not always so famous

Following the release by FORBES of ‘Thailand’s 50 Richest’, we bring you an easy-to-digest insight into the top 20 people in Thailand who are worth more than US$1billion, many you’ve probably never heard of – and that’s the way they like it.

September 2015

Number #1 Dhanin Chearavanont Wealth US$14.4bn
Who is he? Head of food & agriculture conglomerate Charoen Pokphand group (CP)
Age 76 Family Married with 5 children
A few facts The 14.4bn is shared with two brothers. CP has the 7-eleven franchise for all Thailand amongst many other businesses. They are looking at Tesco’s Thailand business.

Number #2 Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi Wealth US$13bn
Who is he? Head of Thai Beverage (ThaiBev), best known as the brewer of Chang Beer
Age 71 Family Married with 5 children
A few facts Long time sponsor of English Premier League football club Everton. After Singapore-listed ThaiBev’s share values soared, Charoen is on the hunt for acquistions – outside Thailand.

Number #3 Chirathivat family Wealth US$12.3bn
Who are they? Central Group – Thailand’s leading retail and hotel chain
Age 51 Family (Central Group CEO Tos Chirathivat pictured here) Married with 2 children
A few facts Tos is the grandson of Central’s founder. Leading expansion regionally, with commitments already in Vietnam and Malaysia.

Number #4 Chalerm Yoovidhya Wealth US$9.6bn
Who is he? Head of the Red Bull group; eldest son of Red Bull founder Chaleo Yoovidhya.
Age 64 Family Married with 3 children
A few facts The extended Yoovidhya family owns 51% of the Red Bull brand. Together with Red Bull co-founder, Dietrich Mateschitz, Chalerm owns Formula One racing team Red Bull Racing.

Number #5 Krit Ratanarak Wealth US$4.7bn
Who is he? Chairman of Bangkok Broadcasting & Television Company (Channel 7)
Age 69 Family Divorced. I child
A few facts The family is one of Thailand’s leading business groups and has significant holdings in many major businesses, including Krungsri Bank and Siam City Cement.

Number #6 Vanich Chaiyawan Wealth US$4bn
Who is he? Chairman of Thai Life Group of Companies
Age 83 Family Married with 8 children
A few facts The group includes Thai Life Insurance, Heineken brewers Thai Asia Pacific Brewery, Park Nai Lert Hotel and Thai Malaya Glass. Vanich also has a stake in ThaiBev (Chang Beer). As a teenager, he sold cigarettes on the streets.

Number #7 Santi Bhirombhakdi & family Wealth US$2.9bn
Who is he? President of Singha Corporation, incl Boon Rawd, brewers of Singha and Leo beers
Age 69 Family Married with 3 children
A few facts Responding to the Thai government’s mission to reduce alcohol consumption via punitive legislation, Santi is aggressively restructuring the Singha holdings, slicing and dicing the business, and adding a few mergers / takeovers, to isolate the vulnerable alcohol brands.

Number #8 Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth Wealth US$2.8bn
Who is he? Founder of Bangkok Airways and Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (Bangkok Hospital)
Age 82 Family Married with 5 children
A few facts With 40 or so hospitals, Bangkok Dusit (whose share value increased by 25% in the last year) is the largest private health care provider in Thailand. Bangkok Airways, listed last year and once the darling of the regional boutique airlines, saw 2014 profits decline by over 60%.

Number #9 Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha Wealth US$2.5bn
Who is he? CEO of King Power Duty Free
Age 57 Family Married with 4 children
A few facts Has monopoly at Bangkok and Phuket airports, which he may soon lose. Is expanding within Thailand and regionally. He owns English Premier League football club Leicester City. Owns TWO jets and a luxury Sunseeker motor yacht. Loves playing polo.

Number #10 Thaksin Shinawatra Wealth US$1.7bn
Who is he? Founder of Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), former Prime Minister of Thailand
Age 66 Family Divorced. 3 children
A few facts Has majority stake in property firm SC Asset, but lives in exile in Dubai and would face a gaol term for a corruption conviction if he returned home.

Number #11 Osathanugrah Family Wealth US$1.6bn
Who are they? Petch (right) & Ratch – 2 of 3 brothers behind M150 and other energy drinks
A few facts MI50, the leading brand of 120-year-old Thai company Osotspa, outsells Red Bull in Thailand. Osotspa also owns energy drink SHARK. The company is run by Ratch and is expanding regionally; Petch is a pop star and chairman of Bangkok University.

Number #12 Keeree Kanjanapas Wealth US$1.6bn
Who is he? Founder of BTS Group Holdings PCL (Bangkok Skytrain)
Age 65 Family Married with 2 children
A few facts Went through a rough patch in 2002 when then holding company Tanayong PCL entered a debt restructuring and business rehabilitation process. Shares resumed trading four years later. Now teamed up with developers Sansiri to build condos along BTS stations.

Number #13 Wichai Thongtang Wealth US$1.5bn
Who is he? Investor and Chairman of CTH Public Company Limited
Age 65 Family Married with 4 children
A few facts Shrewd lawyer-turned-investor. Merged his Payathai Hospital Group with Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (Bangkok Hospital) and retains stake in the latter. Main business is internet service provider CTH (formerly Cable Thai Holdings). Has broadcast rights until 2016 for English Premier League in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Former lawyer to Thaksin Shinawatra.

Number #14 Chatri Sophonpanich & family Wealth US$1.5bn
Who is he? Chairman of Bangkok Bank, Thailand’s biggest lender
Age 81 Family Widowed. 4 children
A few facts Also has the family’s Bangkok Life Assurance business. Other interests include Bumrungrad Hospital. His daughter Savitri is MD of Chatrium Hotels and Residences.

Number #15 Rit Thirakomen & family Wealth US$1.5bn
Who is he? President and CEO of MK Restaurant Group
Age 64 Family Married with 3 children
A few facts Last year, former electrical engineer Rit’s MK group opened over 50 new restaurants in Thailand. The top brand, MK Suki, was started by his wife’s mother. Rit, who owns 15%, runs the company with his wife Yupin, MK’s managing director and 40% shareholder.

Number #16 Isara Vongkusolkit & family Wealth US$1.5bn
Who is he? Chairman of Mitr Phol Sugar Corp and Managing Director of Mae Sod Clean Energy
Age 67 Family Married with 4 children
A few facts Thailand’s No.1 sugar producer, now diversifying into power generation. Was accused of land-grabbing in Cambodia. Now claims to be in discussion with the Cambodian government about cross-border concessions. Family owns the country’s biggest coal mining business, Banpu. Isara’s brother Chanin recently resigned as Banpu’s CEO after 30 years in the driving seat.

Number #17 Thongma Vijitpongpun Wealth US$1.4bn
Who is he? Founder and CEO of Pruksa Real Estate
Age 57 Family Married with 1 child
A few facts Founded in 1993, Pruksa is Thailand’s biggest developer of town houses, small single houses and condominiums – and has undertaken projects in India, Maldives and Vietnam.

Number #18 Prayudh Mahagitsiri & family Wealth US$1.4bn
Who is he? Chairman PM Group. Chairman CEO of Quality Coffee Products Limited
Age 69 Family Married with 3 children
A few facts Prayudh’s coffee business, a JV with Nestlé, brought the first instant coffee to Thailand. He is chairman and CEO of 4 other companies in his PM Group, including Thai Film Industries PCL. A dynastic busines, like many in Thailand, his son is CEO of PM Group.

Number #19 Vichai Maleenont & family Wealth US$1.4bn
Who is he? Chairman BEC World PCL
Age 95 Family Married with 7 children
A few facts BEC World incorporates BEC-TERO, a household name in concert promotion, and Thai TV Channel 3. Recently launched three new digital channels. True family dynasty, BEC World is run by Vichai’s son Prasan, together with five other family members. At 95, Vichai just guides.

Number #20 William Heinecke Wealth US$1.3bn
Who is he? CEO and Chairman of Minor Corporation, Minor International and Minor Food Group
Age 66 Family Married with 2 children
A few facts At 17, Heinecke borrowed U$1,200 and set up an office-cleaning company. Going on to gain Thai nationality, he forged valuable business ties with the royal family’s asset managers. Today his Minor Group owns and manages hotels all over Thailand and increasingly overseas. By 2018, he wants 45% of sales to originate beyond Thailand’s borders. Each year, Heinecke stages a charity elephant polo tournament that has become a big hit on the social calendar.

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