50 richest Thais control B2.5 trillion
The net worth of Thailand’s 50 richest totals $84 billion – 2.52 trillion baht, equivalent to one fourth of the nation’s GDP.
The country’s lucrative tourism-related businesses and the bull run at the Stock Exchange of Thailand in 2012 helped push up the wealth of several of Thailand’s richest people, according to the latest issues of Forbes Asia and Forbes Thailand magazines.
Tourism is Thailand’s No.1 source of foreign exchange, and a growing part of the nation’s GDP, the article said. In 2012, more than 22 million tourists visited Thailand, up 16% from 2011, and an all-time high for the country.
Among the tycoons from Thailand’s 50 richest who benefited from the uptick in tourism was Vichai “King Power” Srivaddhanaprabha, whose duty-free airport stores and retail shops are bustling, with group sales up 35% in 2012. He was the year’s top gainer, jumping to No. 11 on the rich list from No. 37 in 2011, with wealth of $1.6 billion.
Other Thai tycoons who gained from tourism include Nijaporn Charanachitta and Premchai Karnasuta (No. 37, $405 million), who have a stake in Onyx Hospitality, and William Heinecke (No. 20, $1 billion), the nation’s biggest hotel operator, who became a billionaire in May.
Thailand’s richest also got a boost from the robust stock market, which reached a 19-year high in May before sliding a bit _ and is up 14% from last August. Thai share sales, whether IPOs or secondary offerings, hit an all-time record in 2012.
One big beneficiary was transport tycoon Keeree Kanjanapas whose BTS Group Holdings led Asia’s largest IPO of the year through April. He also moved into the billionaire ranks for the first time.
On top of the list for the fourth straight year is Dhanin Chearavanont. The head of agribusiness Charoen Pokphand led the group on an acquisition spree; his CP All, the world’s third biggest operator of 7-Eleven stores, got approval to acquire discount retailer Siam Makro. He also bought a 15% controlling stake in Ping An Insurance in the biggest-ever foreign acquisition of a Chinese company. His wealth jumped $3.6 billion to $12.6 billion this year.
No. 2 is the Chirathivat family, known for Central department stores. They had a net worth of $12.3 billion, up 78% from $6.9 billion in 2012, thanks to the strong gains in their stocks including hotelier Central Plaza (up 140%) and developer Central Pattana (up 85%).
Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi holds his spot in third place with $10.6 billion, up 71% from $6.2 billion previously. His Thai Beverage, the country’s largest brewer whose shares were up three-fourths in past year, paid $11 billion for control of Singapore’s beverage and property company Fraser & Neave. His private property arm, TCC Land, is the largest owner of Marriott Hotels in Asia-Pacific.
There are seven new faces on this year’s list including Siam Global House’s Witoon Suriyawanakul (No. 27, $700 million); WHA’s Somyos & Jareeporn Anantaprayoon (No. 33; $525 million); Samart’s Watchai Vilailuck (No. 39; $370 million); Energy Absolute’s Somphote Ahunai (No. 40; $330 million); and SPCG’s Wandee Khunchornyakong (No. 43; $300 million).
For more information, visit Forbes.com.
Choak Dee Krab
Laew Phop Kan Mai Na Krab