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The Legacy of Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi: Thailand’s Billionaire Businessman

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Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is a Thai billionaire businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He was born on May 2, 1944, in Bangkok, Thailand, and is known for his business acumen and success in various industries, including real estate, beverages, and retail.

After completing his education in Bangkok, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi started his career as a low-level employee in a distillery company. He quickly rose through the ranks and eventually became the owner of the company, which later became the Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, one of the largest beverage companies in Thailand.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi expanded his business empire by acquiring other companies, including Chang Beer, Fraser, and Neave Limited.

The rise of Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi in the Thai liquor industry

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s ascent in the Thai liquor industry is remarkable. At the time, liquor production was a state-run monopoly in Thailand. 

Charoen’s entry into the industry commenced with the provision of supplies to distilleries manufacturing Thai whiskey, which facilitated his networking within the field.

In due course, Charoen secured a license to manufacture his own alcoholic drinks, thereby acquiring entitlements to 15% of the market.

In 1987, the beverage companies gave US$550 million as royalties.

This was a big contribution – it accounted for five percent of the national budget.

Charoen’s astute business sense and adeptness at maneuvering within the state-controlled liquor industry in Thailand provided him with a competitive edge. 

His connections and stockpiling of alcohol gave him a complete monopoly on the market. 

His success demonstrates the power of connections and strategic planning in business. However, it is also worth considering the implications of a single individual or company having such a dominant position in a key industry, particularly in terms of consumer pricing and access.

Chang and Carlsberg

In 1991, Charoen succeeded in the beer market by collaborating with Carlsberg.

After learning from the Danish brewer, Charoen launched his own beer brand called “Chang” which quickly gained a 60% market share in Thailand.

Carlsberg eventually withdrew from the joint venture, and Charoen successfully sued them for $120 million in 2005. 

In 2005, an attempt to list ThaiBev on the Thai stock market was met with opposition from Buddhist groups concerned about the potential increase in alcohol consumption. 

This ultimately prevented ThaiBev from being listed on the Thai stock exchange.

Other Ventures

Charoen’s fortune changed in 1985 when the government opened up the remaining 85% of state licenses for bidding.

With his considerable reserves of alcohol serving as collateral, Charoen secured a loan of US$200 million. He emerged victorious in the bidding process and obtained a 100% share of the licenses, thereby gaining a monopoly over the liquor industry in Thailand.

In 2013, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi successfully bought Singapore’s Fraser and Neave Ltd. for $11.2 billion, and in 2017, he planned to build the largest private sector property development in Thailand, called “One Bangkok.”

Personal life and legacy

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi has a wife named Khunying Wanna, and they have five children. One of their sons, Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, is the CEO of ThaiBev, a big beverage company in Asia. Their daughter, Wallapa Traisorat, is the CEO and President of Asset World Corporation, which is owned by TCC Group. 

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s legacy includes his significant contributions to the Thai economy and his philanthropic efforts. He has been instrumental in developing the Thai beverage industry and has helped make Thai Beverage a major player in the international alcohol market.

Another notable aspect of Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s legacy is his family’s control over a significant portion of Thailand’s economy. His family’s businesses span a variety of industries, including beverages, retail, real estate, and hospitality.

Why is the beverage industry important?

The beverage industry is an essential sector of the economy that provides various benefits. The industry is a significant employer, creating jobs for millions worldwide.

It generates significant revenue and tax income for countries, contributing to economic growth and stability. Beverages are a basic human need, providing essential hydration and nutrients, and the beverage industry plays a vital role in ensuring that people have access to safe and healthy beverages.

Furthermore, the beverage industry relies on other industries, such as agriculture, packaging, and transportation, creating interdependence and supporting economic growth. Finally, the beverage industry is a sector that constantly innovates and adapts to changing consumer preferences, market trends, and environmental concerns.

This contributes to developing new products and technologies that benefit consumers and the environment. Overall, the beverage industry is a critical component of the economy that offers essential products, employment opportunities, and revenue generation while also driving innovation and growth.

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