Bangkok (The Nation/ANN) - Thai politicians and their families, especially some people close to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government after the latest reshuffle on October 28, rank among the richest stockholders in the country.
Appearing among the 5,737 millionaires as of September, according to a survey of investors in the Stock Exchange of Thailand by Money and Banking Journal in collaboration with professors from Chulalongkorn University, are Yingluck's two nieces, who are daughters of her big brother and former prime minister Thaksin.
The younger niece, Paethongtarn Shinawatra, was ranked 47th with her 29-per-cent holding in SC Asset worth 3.46 billion baht (US$112 million), while Pinthongta Shinawatra was 53rd with a 28-per-cent stake in the same real-estate company worth 3.35 billion baht.
They benefited from the 65-per-cent surge in SC Asset's stock to 18 baht apiece as of September 30. This raised the Shinawatras to 27th among stock billionaire families from 30th in the previous year.
Pojaman na Pombejra, Thaksin's ex-wife, fell to 502nd this year from 467th although her 2.8-per-cent stake in the family business accounted for 333.11 million baht, up 50 per cent.
Pongthep Thepkanjana, deputy prime minister and education minister, has his wife and daughter on the list. Yapa was ranked 244th with a 2.1-per-cent interest in Kiatnakin Bank worth 795.50 million baht, while his wife Panida was 264th with a 1.9-per-cent stake worth 728.08 million baht in the bank.
Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung has two sons on the list - Artharn at 1,811st with a 2.6-per-cent stake worth 58.28 million baht in Unimit Engineering, and Duang at 2,213rd with 1.8 per cent or 38.60 million baht in the same company.
Heading up the stock-exchange billionaires were the same faces. Thongma Vijitpongpun, president and chief executive officer of Pruksa Real Estate, was the richest for the third straight year with equities worth 23.5 billion baht. Most of his stocks (58.6 per cent worth 23.31 billion baht) were in his company, with minor holdings of 1.1 per cent in Quality Houses and 0.7 per cent in Seafco.
The Maleenont family was this year's champion for the 14th year in a row. With a 108-per-cent jump in BEC World this year, the family's stock wealth soared by 108 per cent, or 36.46 billion to 70.26 billion baht.
They were followed by the Chirathivats with 40.87 billion baht, up 92 per cent, and the Vijitpongpuns with 28.09 billion baht, up 27 per cent.
Thailand's 40 richest people have a collective wealth of $55 billion (1.73 trillion baht), an increase of 22 per cent from $45 billion last year, according to Forbes magazine.
Forbes noted that many of Thailand's wealthiest are looking to take on international rivals, on the strength of an expected 6-per-cent growth in the Thai economy this year. For a country that some outsiders see as beset by political turmoil and rural insurgency - never mind last year's calamitous flooding - Thailand has done remarkably well by its richest.
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