Thailand's Richest 2018: Top Heavy List Sees Wealthiest Add Close To $25 Billion

Original Source    2018-05-03 02:05

Billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group Co. (CP Group), enjoyed a boost to his family’s net worth (Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg)

This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of Thailands’s Richest 2018. See the full list here.

After a subdued spell, Thailand’s economy is gathering momentum. With rising exports and a recovery in domestic demand, the World Bank has forecast that for the first time since 2012, economic growth will exceed 4% in 2018. Relative to this modest upturn, the nation’s richest are enjoying a disproportionate wealth boom, spurred by stock market gains and a stronger baht. The Top 50 are collectively worth more than $162 billion, up by close to one third since we last measured fortunes 11 months ago.

Rising To The Top

Two-thirds of the nation’s richest saw their wealth swell, with the top four alone adding close to $25 billion. Among the big dollar gainers were the Chearavanont brothers of the Charoen Pokphand Group, who remain at No. 1 with a record $30 billion. They got a boost from soaring shares of their key holdings, such as 7-Eleven operator CP All, which benefited from an uptick in consumer sentiment, and Chinese insurer Ping An, whose fintech bets are paying off.

All four energy drink fortunes were up, and none more so than that linked to Red Bull, owned by Chalerm Yoovidhya and his clan. Analysts recommended a revaluation of privately held Red Bull, more in line with its listed American rival Monster, and that pushed Yoovidhya up to No. 3.

Aloke Lohia, chief executive officer of Indorama Ventures PCL (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)

Another big winner is hyperactive, Indian-born plastics tycoon Aloke Lohia, whose prolific dealmaking since 2014 has seen his Indorama Ventures net 16 acquisitions across the globe, including in Europe and North America. For 2017, the company, which rose to the top ten ranks of Asian plastics makers, reported a 17% jump in revenue to $8.4 billion. A Bangkok resident for three decades, Lohia’s wealth surged 89% to $3.3 billion.

More on Forbes: Thailand’s Richest 2018: Skin Whitening Boom Continues To Surge Across Asia

Reflecting rising prosperity, there are 32 billion-dollar-plus fortunes this year, four more than in 2017. The four new names on the list include two newly minted billionaires, who join the ranks after taking their companies public. U.S.-educated Sarath Ratanavadi, CEO of Gulf Energy Development, which listed in December, is the richest newcomer, with $3.4 billion. The buoyant beauty business yielded two newcomers, including Sarawut Pornpatanaruk, whose Do Day Dream is cashing in on the skin-whitening craze.

Adam Dean For Forbes

Sarawut Pornpatanaruk, founder of cosmetics maker Do Day Dream, poses for a portrait in the company’s factory in Ayutthaya, Thailand on April 19, 2018.

Female entries

Of the nine women who feature in the top 50, two returned to the fold this year, including matriarch Somporn Juangroongruangkit, chairman of auto parts group Thai Summit, whose son Thanathorn took a surprising plunge into politics.

Media magnates, buffeted by weak ad revenues and competition from online channels, were among those who didn’t fare well. Given the list’s required minimum net worth of $600 million, seven dropped off, including Pawat Vitoorapakorn, whose plastic packaging maker Eastern Polymer Group saw revenue and net profit fall on tepid demand and higher raw material costs. A poaching scandal involving infrastructure tycoon Premchai Karnasuta, who fell off two years ago, kept him in the news.

Net worths are based on stock prices and exchange rates from April 20.

Reporting by Megha Bahree, Ron Gluckman, Sean Kilachand, Suzanne Nam, Anuradha Raghunathan and Busrin Treerapongpichit


Thailand’s Richest 2018: The Newsmakers

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