Thailand's richest man plans US$1.5b IPO


THAILAND'S richest man Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is planning an initial public offering of a domestic property business that could raise at least US$1.5 billion, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The tycoon's TCC Group conglomerate has asked banks to pitch for a role on the share sale by its Asset World Corp. unit, according to the people. It aims to list AWC in Bangkok next year, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

AWC develops shopping centres and office space in Thailand and has a hospitality business. Its projects include Empire Tower and Interlink Tower in the country's capital, as well as malls such as OP Place, Gateway Ekamai and Centerpoint of Siam Square, according to AWC's website.

The firm's hotels include Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok, Banyan Tree Samui, Le Meridien Chiang Mai and the Marriott resort in Hua Hin. AWC has more than 6,500 employees, the website shows.

Details of the offering are still being discussed, and the size of the deal could change depending on market conditions, the people said. Representatives for TCC Group's property division and AWC declined to comment.

Overseas Holdings AWC recorded about 6.4 billion baht (S$270.9 million) of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation last year on revenue of 20 billion baht, according to the company representative. It had about 140 billion baht of assets at the end of 2017, the representative said, confirming figures given by an AWC executive in an interview with Forbes Thailand earlier this year.

First-time share sales in Thailand have raised US$2 billion this year, compared with US$2.3 billion during the same period in 2017, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Energy drink maker Osotspa Pcl, which just completed the year's biggest corporate IPO in the country, gained 9 per cent on its trading debut on Wednesday.

Mr Charoen is Thailand's richest man with a net worth of US$11.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He controls Thai Beverage Pcl, the maker of Chang beer, and Bangkok-listed consumer goods distributor Berli Jucker Pcl.

Some of his group's overseas real estate businesses are already publicly traded, including Frasers Property Ltd., which has a market value of US$3.3 billion. That company has previously spun off several property trusts in Singapore that own hotels, office buildings, warehouses and retail space. BLOOMBERG