Thailand, a nation steeped in rich cultural heritage and dynamic economic growth has the wealthiest moguls—captains of industry and visionary entrepreneurs. Delving into the lives and fortunes of these influential figures, the exploration sheds light on the forces – Chearavanont brothers, Chalerm Yoovidhya, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Chirathivat family, and Sarath Ratanavadi, molding Thailand’s economic landscape and the profound impact of their substantial fortunes.
Wealthiest People in Thailand
Chearavanont brothers: The wealth of three siblings and the family of their late brother, Montri, is derived from the Charoen Pokphand Group, a global leader in animal feed and livestock production. Their father, Chia Ek Chor, and his brother, Choncharoen Chiaravanont, established a seed shop in 1921, selling imported Chinese seeds to Thai farmers. Dhanin Chearavanont, the youngest sibling, served as CP’s chairman and CEO for 48 years until his resignation in 2017, maintaining his position as senior chairman. Dhanin’s eldest son, Soopakij, and his youngest son, Suphachai, currently hold the positions of chairman and CEO at CP, respectively. In 2023, the group’s telecom unit merged with rival Total Access Communications. Dhanin Chearavanont, also known as Xie Guomin in Chinese or Chia Kok Min in Teochew, is a Thai billionaire businessman based in Bangkok, serving as the senior chairman of Charoen Pokphand, Thailand’s largest private company.
Chalerm Yoovidhya leads a prominent family involved in the co-ownership of Red Bull, the globally renowned energy drink that achieved sales of 11.6 billion cans in 2022. The family’s ownership includes a share held personally by Chalerm, the eldest son of the late Chaleo, one of Red Bull’s co-founders. In December 2020, Red Bull Thailand successfully resolved a longstanding trademark dispute with Red Bull in China.
Dietrich Mateschitz, the Austrian billionaire and co-founder of Red Bull alongside Chalerm’s father, passed away in October 2022 at the age of 78. Chalerm is married to Daranee Yoovidhya, and together they have three children: Varangkana Kritakara, Varit, and Vorayuth Yoovidhya. The couple has been linked to the Panama Papers, as they own five multimillion-dollar properties in London through Karnforth Investments, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Their Red Bull holdings are structured through a complex network of British Virgin Islands companies, including Karnforth, Jerrard Company Ltd., and JK Fly. Mossack Fonseca’s auditors expressed concerns about these arrangements in both 2010 and 2013.
Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, born to a street vendor in Bangkok, commands control over Thai Beverage, the largest brewing company in Thailand, renowned for producing Chang beer. Alongside this, he holds significant assets in the Singaporean beverage and property giant Fraser & Neave. Charoen’s expansive retail empire includes the acquisition of the Big C Supercenter hypermarket chain in 2016, a deal valued at over $6 billion.
In October 2019, Charoen took his privately held property unit, Asset World, public and still maintains a majority stake. Asset World possesses hotels in popular tourist destinations like Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi, and Pattaya. Charoen’s son, Panote, manages the family’s property interests and is spearheading the development of One Bangkok, a mixed-use project valued at $3.5 billion situated in the heart of Bangkok.
The Chirathivat family oversees Central Group, the largest mall developer in Thailand. Tos Chirathivat, the grandson of the group’s founder, leads the family. In February 2020, they conducted Thailand’s most significant IPO by listing their private retail arm, Central Retail, and raised $2.5 billion. In December 2021, the family, in collaboration with Austrian retailer Signa Holdings, agreed to purchase the renowned U.K. department store Selfridges for $4.5 billion.
Looking ahead, the group plans to invest $6.6 billion in their listed retail and property businesses over the next five years.
Sarath Ratanavadi serves as the CEO of Gulf Energy Development, a prominent player in Thailand’s power generation sector. In 2017, he led the company through a successful initial public offering (IPO), raising over $700 million and marking Thailand’s most substantial IPO in a decade. In 2021, Sarath expanded his influence by acquiring stakes in the telecommunications giant InTouch Holdings and its wireless unit, Advanced Info Service (AIS).
Gulf Energy’s collaboration with Singtel and AIS for the establishment of data centers in Thailand is anticipated to commence operations in 2025. Additionally, the company has a 70:30 joint venture with the state-owned oil and gas firm PTT to construct a $1.3 billion LNG terminal and port on Thailand’s eastern coast.