The Straits Times
Published on Jan 22, 2013

Thai billionaire Charoen builds empire with F&N takeover


BANGKOK (REUTERS) - For self-made Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the takeover of Singapore's Fraser and Neave Ltd (F&N) will add legions of assets to his drinks and real estate empire that already stretches from Southeast Asia to the United States.

Mr Charoen, the son of a Bangkok street vendor whom Forbes ranks as Thailand's third-richest person with a net worth of US$6.2 billion (S$7.6 billion), is no stranger to a challenge.

He lost to Heineken NV last year in a battle for F&N's stake in Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd, the maker of Tiger beer, but forced the Dutch giant into a higher offer that made him a tidy gain on shares his group had amassed.

This week, Mr Charoen emerged victorious when a consortium led by Indonesian tycoon Stephen Riady pulled out of the bidding for F&N's soft drinks, dairy and publishing businesses plus a real estate portfolio worth more than S$8 billion.