Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha: Master of the big deal

PHOTO: Reuters

Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, 60, is the key figure behind the huge success of King Power International, Thailand’s duty-free shopping giant, and has bagged many big deals in Thailand’s business history, including their latest acquisition – the MahaNakorn development project, Thailand’s tallest mixed-use tower – at Bt14 billion (S$583 million).

Founded in 1989, King Power International has become one of the global leaders in duty-free shopping. The group operates duty-free stores at Thailand’s international airports, an online shopping facility, and downtown shopping malls in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya.

Born in June 5, 1958, Vichai is a son of Wiwat and Prapasorn Raksriaksorn. He graduated high school from Woodlawn High School, US, and did his bachelor’s from the Faculty of Liberal Arts, Ramkamhaeng University, and got a degree from Northrop University’s Business Administration Faculty in the US. Vichai is married to Aimon, with whom he has four children: Voramas, Apichet, Arunroong, and Aiyawatt.

A gardener works in front of the King Power headquarters in Bangkok on October 28, 2018.Photo: AFP

In 2012 the family was bestowed the new family surname Srivaddhanaprabha by HM the late King Bhumibol – the name means “light of progressive glory”.

Thai billionaire Vichai's family visits Leicester crash site

  • Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, son of Leicester City's owner Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, clasps his hands together as he stands infront of Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel amongst tributes left for Vichai and four other people who died when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed as it left the ground after the match on Saturday, in Leicester, Britain, October 29, 2018.
  • The family of the late Thai billionaire boss of Premier League club Leicester City paid tribute to him on Monday at the site where his helicopter crashed as investigators began examining the aircraft's black box.
  • Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha (right) and Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, the son and wife of Leicester City's Thai chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who died in a helicopter crash at the club's stadium, look at the floral tributes left to the victims of the crash.
  • Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's son and widow were seen laying a wreath among a sea of tributes from fans outside the stadium, including flowers, football scarves and Buddhist statues.
  • Vichai's son Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, known as "Top", is chief executive of his father's duty-free empire King Power and also vice-chairman of the football club Vichai bought in 2010.
  • Along with other family members and executives from King Power, the two were also seen laying wreaths at the crash site in a car park near the stadium, which is still cordoned off as air accident investigators pick through the wreckage.
  • Five people died in Saturday's crash, including also two members of Vichai's staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and the pilot's girlfriend, Izabela Roza Lechowicz, also a pilot.
  • Nursara Suknamai was an actress and a runner-up in Miss Thailand Universe in 2005.
  • The reins of King Power Group's multi-billion-baht business empire is now in the hands of 32-year-old Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha.
  • With his father gone, Aiyawatt has to take over as the CEO of King Power Group as well as chairman of the English Premier League football club Leicester City.
  • However, it remains unclear if Aiyawatt has his father's mettle, especially in terms of having a formidable wheeler-dealer attitude, even though he has been groomed over the past several years for these new challenges.
  • Fans laid down hundreds of football scarves, shirts and flowers outside Leicester City's stadium on Sunday, a day after the club's Thai billionaire owner died in a helicopter crash just outside the ground.
  • Fans streamed to the stadium to express their gratitude long before official confirmation that the 60-year-old businessman, who frequently flies to and from Leicester's home games by helicopter, was aboard the aircraft.
  • Four other people on the helicopter, including two members of Vichai's staff, were also killed in the crash.
  • Residents remembered a determined and charismatic figure who was the driving force behind a footballing feat when the club rose through the ranks to win the top spot two years ago.
  • Many also remembered the owner's generosity to fans -- free breakfasts at away matches and free beers on his birthday -- as well as to the city, including a donation to the local hospital.
  • Vichai also brought Thailand greater recognition in the international sporting world, developing the Southeast Asian country's football scene.
  • Kanti Patel, one of the first supporters to come to pay tribute in the early hours of Sunday, told AFP: "It means a lot to me, he did a lot for the club. "I can't get over it. Since him being with the club the club has done well, and I don't know what's going to happen now."
  • Another fan, Nathavut Sirimontaporn, said Vichai had brought "benefits" to Thai football. "I think having him as an owner of the Leicester City made people know Thailand more," he said.
  • A man kneels with a statue of the Buddha and devotional scripture in front of the floral tributes gathered outside Leicester City Football Club's King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on October 28, 2018
  • Pedestrians walk past a mural showing Leicester City Football Club's Thai chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha near De Montfort University in Leicester, eastern England, on October 28, 2018.

Vichai became a vastly experienced businessman, both from his own and jointly-managed companies, including Sriaksorn (1980), Thai Nishikawa International, Europa Prince (Thailand), and Downtown DFS (Thailand). 

Vichai is a pioneer in the establishment of the duty-free business in Thailand and has become one of Thailand’s leading businessmen.

He began his travel retail career in Hong Kong, returning to his native Thailand to open the country’s first downtown duty-free shop as a joint venture with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, before expanding the business to Cambodia, Macau and China, as well as Thailand’s international airports. Vichai controls and chairs US$3.3 billion (revenues) King Power, Thailand’s leading operator of duty-free stores.

He is widely known to be closely connected to veteran politician Newin Chidchob, now president of Thai football league’s Buriram United, and Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan. 

In addition to his business interests, Vichai has a passion for sport, especially polo and football.

He established an outdoor polo field in Thailand, ranked as one of the top international facilities, and has served as the president of Thailand Polo Association.

In 2010, he acquired Leicester City Football Club and currently serves as the club’s chairman. In 2017, he bought his second football club, OH Leuven in Belgium.

Vichai is ranked by Forbes as the fifth richest person in Thailand in 2018 with US$4.9 billion in real time net worth as of yesterday.

A helicopter carrying him and four others crashed and burst into flames in a car park close to his team’s King Power Stadium yesterday after taking off from the club’s pitch.

Thai billionaire Vichai's family visits Leicester crash site

  • Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, son of Leicester City's owner Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, clasps his hands together as he stands infront of Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel amongst tributes left for Vichai and four other people who died when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed as it left the ground after the match on Saturday, in Leicester, Britain, October 29, 2018.
  • The family of the late Thai billionaire boss of Premier League club Leicester City paid tribute to him on Monday at the site where his helicopter crashed as investigators began examining the aircraft's black box.
  • Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha (right) and Aimon Srivaddhanaprabha, the son and wife of Leicester City's Thai chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who died in a helicopter crash at the club's stadium, look at the floral tributes left to the victims of the crash.
  • Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's son and widow were seen laying a wreath among a sea of tributes from fans outside the stadium, including flowers, football scarves and Buddhist statues.
  • Vichai's son Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, known as "Top", is chief executive of his father's duty-free empire King Power and also vice-chairman of the football club Vichai bought in 2010.
  • Along with other family members and executives from King Power, the two were also seen laying wreaths at the crash site in a car park near the stadium, which is still cordoned off as air accident investigators pick through the wreckage.
  • Five people died in Saturday's crash, including also two members of Vichai's staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, pilot Eric Swaffer and the pilot's girlfriend, Izabela Roza Lechowicz, also a pilot.
  • Nursara Suknamai was an actress and a runner-up in Miss Thailand Universe in 2005.
  • The reins of King Power Group's multi-billion-baht business empire is now in the hands of 32-year-old Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha.
  • With his father gone, Aiyawatt has to take over as the CEO of King Power Group as well as chairman of the English Premier League football club Leicester City.
  • However, it remains unclear if Aiyawatt has his father's mettle, especially in terms of having a formidable wheeler-dealer attitude, even though he has been groomed over the past several years for these new challenges.
  • Fans laid down hundreds of football scarves, shirts and flowers outside Leicester City's stadium on Sunday, a day after the club's Thai billionaire owner died in a helicopter crash just outside the ground.
  • Fans streamed to the stadium to express their gratitude long before official confirmation that the 60-year-old businessman, who frequently flies to and from Leicester's home games by helicopter, was aboard the aircraft.
  • Four other people on the helicopter, including two members of Vichai's staff, were also killed in the crash.
  • Residents remembered a determined and charismatic figure who was the driving force behind a footballing feat when the club rose through the ranks to win the top spot two years ago.
  • Many also remembered the owner's generosity to fans -- free breakfasts at away matches and free beers on his birthday -- as well as to the city, including a donation to the local hospital.
  • Vichai also brought Thailand greater recognition in the international sporting world, developing the Southeast Asian country's football scene.
  • Kanti Patel, one of the first supporters to come to pay tribute in the early hours of Sunday, told AFP: "It means a lot to me, he did a lot for the club. "I can't get over it. Since him being with the club the club has done well, and I don't know what's going to happen now."
  • Another fan, Nathavut Sirimontaporn, said Vichai had brought "benefits" to Thai football. "I think having him as an owner of the Leicester City made people know Thailand more," he said.
  • A man kneels with a statue of the Buddha and devotional scripture in front of the floral tributes gathered outside Leicester City Football Club's King Power Stadium in Leicester, eastern England, on October 28, 2018
  • Pedestrians walk past a mural showing Leicester City Football Club's Thai chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha near De Montfort University in Leicester, eastern England, on October 28, 2018.