Thailand’s richest saw their collective wealth surge to more than US$162 billion, up one-third from the previous year, according to the Forbes Thailand Rich List 2018.
Among the top 50 richest on the list, two-thirds saw their wealth rise, with the top four alone adding close to $25 billion.
After a subdued spell, Thailand’s economy is gathering momentum, Forbes noted.
With rising exports and a recovery in domestic demand, the World Bank has forecast that, for the first time since 2012, Thailand’s economic growth will exceed 4 per cent 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 four on the list are the year’s biggest dollar gainers, with the Chearavanont brothers of the Charoen Pokphand Group retaining the No 1 spot with a record $30 billion.
Their wealth got a boost from soaring shares of their key holdings, such as 7-Eleven operator CP All, which benefited from an uptick in sales, and Chinese insurer Ping An, whose fintech bets are paying off.
Taking the second spot on the list is the Chirathivat family of Central Group, who saw their wealth rise to $21.2 billion, up from $15.3 billion last year.
Red Bull owner Chalerm Yoovidhya and his clan took the No 3 spot on the list as their wealth increased by $8.5 billion to $21 billion this year.
Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi (No 4, $17.4 billion) of Thai Beverage saw his fortune increase by $2 billon from a year ago.
Another big winner is Aloke Lohia (No 9), whose wealth surged 89 per cent to $3.3 billion this year. Since 2014, his prolific deal-making saw his Indorama Ventures net 16 acquisitions across the globe, including in Europe and North America. For 2017, his company reported a 17 per cent jump in revenue to $8.4 billion.
Reflecting rising prosperity, there are $32-billion-plus fortunes on this year’s list, four more than in 2017. There are four new names, including two newly minted billionaires who join the ranks after taking their companies public.
US-educated Sarath Ratanavadi (No 7), CEO of Gulf Energy Development, which listed in December, is the richest newcomer with $3.4 billion.
Prachak Tangkaravakoon (No 14) makes his debut on the list with a net worth of $2.1 billion.
The other two new listees are from Thailand’s buoyant beauty industry. They are Suwin and Tanyapon Kraibhubes (No 40) of Beauty Community with a combined net worth of $715 million and Sarawut Pornpatanaruk (No 45, $675 million), whose Do Day Dream is cashing in on the skin-whitening craze.
Of the nine women who feature in the top 50, there are two returnees this year, including matriarch Somporn Juangroongruangkit (No 28, $1.3 billion), chairman of auto parts group Thai Summit. Another notable woman to make the list is shipping heiress Nishita Shah Federbush (No 32, $1.06 billion), who helms the GP Group and saw her family’s fortune cross $1 billion for the first time. Much of the gain was due to the family’s 51-per-cent stake in listed pharma unit Mega Lifesciences, founded by her father Kirit in 1982.
THE TOP 10
Chearavanont brothers, US$30 billion
Chirathivat family, $21.2 billion
Chalerm Yoovidhya, $21 billion
Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, $17.4 billion
Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, $5.2 billion
Krit Ratanarak, $3.7 billion
Sarath Ratanavadi, $3.4 billion
Prasert Prasarttong-Osoth, $3.35 billion
Aloke Lohia, $3.3 billion
Vanich Chaiyawan, $3 billion
The list was compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges and analysts, the Stock Exchange of Thailand and regulatory agencies.
The list encompasses family fortunes, including those shared among extended families of multiple generations. Public fortunes were calculated based on stock prices and exchange rates as of April 20.