Thai tycoons go for it in multi-billion deals


Thai billionaires Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi and Dhanin Chearavanont have closed two major deals that astounded the global business community due to their sheer size.

Sirivadhanabhakdi succeeded after a hard-fought battle for the control of Singapore’s Fraser & Neave (F&N), a property-to-drinks conglomerate, as Japan’s Kirin brewery agreed to sell him its 15 per cent stake for $1.6 billion.

The sale, announced by Kirin on February 1, will increase Sirivadhanabhakdi’s ownership of F&N to about two-thirds, giving him greater control over the company after it emerged that he had accumulated a narrow majority of 50.92 per cent of its shares earlier. He will now oversee the lucrative beverage, property and publishing business of F&N which became a takeover target after it sold off its most prized asset, Tiger Beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries, to Dutch giant Heineken in September 2012.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is Thailand’s third richest businessman with a net worth of $6.2 billion. He owns, among other businesses, Thailand’s largest brewery Thai Beverage, known for the popular Chang beer brand and the Songsam and Mekhong whisky brands as well as the Oishi food outlet chain.

Another Thai tycoon, Dhanin Chearavanont, got clearance for the $9.39 billion purchase of HSBC’s stake in Chinese Ping An Insurance. The stake will be sold to Chearavanont’s conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group, active in agribusiness and food, retail and distribution and the telecommunications industries with investment in 15 countries.The deal ranks as the biggest overseas purchase by a Thai company and the biggest investment in a Chinese company ever. Ping An is China’s second-biggest insurer by premiums after state-owned China Life Insurance.Dhanin Chearavanont, who made his fortune selling frozen chickens, is Thailand’s richest man at a net worth of $9 billion.