How The Chearavanonts Became The Second-Richest Family In Asia

We are running to eliminate Asia’s wealthiest families by 2020. Today, we are taking a look at Asia’s third richest family – the Cherwonont family. Their combined $ 31.7 billion net worth derives from the Charoen Pokefund Group, a conglomerate of food, retail and telecommunications units. The family’s fortunes began with selling seeds, and today it thrives with, among other things, slurps. That’s right, the CP group owns the largest group of 7-elevations in Thailand.

The Chearavanont kingdom began in 1921 when a Chia thief destroyed its thunderstorm in China with some seeds to grow cabbage, radish, turnip and cauliflower in Thailand. At that time, it was very difficult to find those vegetables in Thailand. Chia Ek Chor and his brother Chia Seow Hui lived in the Chinatown area of ​​Bangkok. During this period, anti-Chinese sentiment was strong in Thailand. Despite this, the brothers built the seed trading business which developed into one of the largest conglomerates in Southeast Asia.

Dhanin Chervonont (via Toru Yamanaka / AFP Getty Image)

Chia, the son of a thief, Dhanin Chervanont, was born in 1939 in Bangkok. While he was growing up, his father and uncle were expanding their business across Asia. A thief sent his son to China and Hong Kong for his schooling. When he returned to Thailand, a thief sent his son to work for a government-controlled abattoir. Chervonont worked in the abattoir for five years and then joined the family business. His strength was in making connections that were critical to growing the business. They nurtured connections that removed the business side of the CP group and also established modern management and technology. Chervanont was a follower of Feng Shui and chose to promote the employees he was entitled to, rather than following the company’s previously used nepotism.

In 1978, China opened its business to accommodate people around the world. While many businesses were hesitant to expand into China, Chiervont was educated there, so he was primed and ready to expand. His business grew rapidly in China and diversified into retail, real estate and cars. Chervanont was approached by Honda, Wal-Mart and Tesco to bring those brands to China. At the same time, Chearavanont’s CP Group was joining the telecommunications business. From 1992 to 1995, the company’s revenue doubled to $ 6.5 billion (equivalent to today’s $ 12 billion, adjusted for inflation).

Then, in 1997, the Asian financial crisis hit. The CP Group had a high debt and its creditors panicked and demanded immediate repayment of the debt. However, Chervanont did not panic, instead focusing on where he made mistakes and selling all the assets that were not central to the CP Group’s business. Essentially, he went into survival mode. When it existed, the company ventured into the telecommunications business in Thailand, giving it more competition. Chervanont relied on his grandfather and the philosophy he learned from his education in China – and to re-develop his business. The rebuilding company was more stable and when the avian flu hit in 2004 and threatened the poultry segment of its business, the CP group was strong enough to survive it.

In the mid-2000s, CP Group opened thousands of 7-Eleven stores in Thailand and Southeast Asia. While his father and uncle literally sowed the seeds of business, it is Chervonont’s leadership and innovation that not only grows, but revives and continues to grow the CP Group. Today, the CP Group is expanding into Russia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Chervanont is 81 years old. His 53-year-old son, Suchachi Chervanont is the CEO and executive chairman of CP Group. They were raised in Thailand – in fact, even though the family has its roots in China, the Cherenvont family considers themselves to be Thai through and through. Supchai, like his father, was schooled in China. At the age of eight, he studied Chinese in Taiwan. He studied at Boston University. After college, he did an internship at a petrochemical factory in Houston. He returned to Thailand to work at a subsidiary of the CP Group. Like his father, he faced some difficult times by restructuring the company’s debts.

From 2005 to 2017, Suchiti was the CEO of True Corporation (a subsidiary of CP Group). He founded the True PlookPna initiative for the company, which was designed to improve education for vulnerable children in 6000 schools in rural Thailand. In 2016, he succeeded his father as CEO of CP Group. In 2019, he led the CP Group’s artificial reef program in Thailand. In 2020, he announced that the CP Group would not lay off any of its 400,000 employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, in fact, it had hired 20,000 new delivery employees since the pandemic began. In June, he spoke at an online UN seminar on corporate sustainability during the epidemic. Supachai has also proved to be a thoroughly modern CEO, pledging to have carbon neutral and zero waste mortgaged to the entire CP Group by 2030.

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