Thai Tycoon Charoen turns Focus from Cheap Spirits to Tea

Source: Financial Times

Thai tycoon Charoen turns focus from cheap spirits to teaCharoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s multibillion-dollar empire is built on slaking Thais’ thirst for cheap spirits, but his future after winning one of southeast Asia’s biggest takeover battles may lie in shifting green tea.

The packaging-to-publishing magnate’s tussle with Heineken and Indonesia’s Riady family during his $11.2bn swoop last year for Singapore’s Fraser and Neave, the drinks and property company, is part of a widening international search for new consumer markets.

The question is whether Mr. Charoen can convert diverse interests ranging from English football sponsorship to brewing in post-dictatorship Myanmar into financial performance – and justify the belief of analysts who see him as a potential regional “beverage king”.

“Investors are impressed by the overseas aspirations,” says Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, Standard Chartered’s director of consumer equities research for the 10-member Asean grouping of southeast Asian states. “A lot of the growth is going to come from beyond the shores of Thailand.”

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