The Nation

Thai billionaires shin up Forbes list of world's richest

Three Thai businessmen managed to maintain their positions in this year's Forbes The World's Billionaires list, despite many new entrants, particularly from Asia. The fortunes of all three Thai billionaires have improved over last year.

Ranked No 1 in Thailand for two years, with a net worth of US$6.5 billion (Bt197 billion), Charoen Pokphand Group's Dhanin Chearavanont and his family are ranked 152nd in Forbes' 25th annual ranking of the richest people in the world. Last year, net worth of $2.1 billion put him at 463rd.Chaleo Yoovidhya is ranked 208th, unchanged from last year. However, his net worth rose from $4.1 billion to $5 billion. Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi takes 247th place with net worth of $4.3 billion. His net worth rose significantly from $2.9 billion last year, when he was ranked 342nd. According to the magazine, Dhanin and his family's stock investments in their three largest shareholdings more than doubled over the past year. The operator of 7-Eleven stores, CP ALL rose on higher profits and successful expansion, while food producers Charoen Pokphand Foods and PT Charoen Pokphand rose on demand from China and high-margin food sales. The family also owns the country's third-largest mobile phone company, which recently took over Hutchison Telecom's Thai operations. The wealth of Dhanin's three brothers, also believed to be billionaires, was added to his total worth.Chaleo continued to reap benefits from energy-drink producer TC Pharmaceutical Industries, which two decades ago created Red Bull in cooperation with Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz. Each partner owns 49 per cent of the company. Chaleo's son, Chalerm, who owns one of Asia's leading wine producers, Siam Winery, holds the remaining 2 per cent. In building up Red Bull, Chaleo provided the formula for the beverage while Mateschitz contributed marketing flair. Last year, TC sold 4.2 billion cans of the drink, the most ever. Chaleo's family also holds a sizeable stake in Piyavate Hospital. Charoen, the son of a Bangkok street vendor, made his fortune selling inexpensive beer and whisky. He controls Thai Beverage, Thailand's largest brewer and distiller, best known for Chang Beer. Thai Beverage was listed in Singapore in 2006. Charoen's privately owned TCC Land owns Bangkok's famous tech-mall Pantip Plaza and Hotel Plaza Athenee in Manhattan. It also owns other hotels in Asia, the US and Australia, as well as residential, commercial and retail buildings in Singapore and Thailand. Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu is the richest person in the world for the second year in a row, with a net worth of $74 billion. He is also the biggest gainer on the list, with a stunning $20.5 billion increase in wealth since last year, widening his lead over Bill Gates to $18 billion. The Mexican telecom mogul's gain was attributed to a 19-per-cent rise in the Mexican stock market, a stronger peso and successful mining and real-estate spin-offs by conglomerate Grupo Carso.

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