Thai Billionaire Dhanin Says He Seeks More Acquisitions in China

Thai billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, who bought a $9.4 billion stake in Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. from HSBC Holdings Plc in February, said he is seeking more acquisitions to tap growth in China.

The Chinese market is a “very good expansion opportunity for us, and we will continue looking to buy stakes and make acquisitions,” Dhanin, chairman of Charoen Pokphand Group Co., told reporters at the Boao Forum for Asia in the southern Chinese province of Hainan. “I am very optimistic about China’s growth,” he said yesterday, adding that the company is open to investing in many sectors.

The shares in Ping An give Dhanin’s CP Group, which includes businesses ranging from agriculture to retail and telecommunications, a stake in China’s second-largest insurer and an inroad to the financial-services market in the world’s second-biggest economy. Dhanin, speaking on a panel at the Boao Forum, said ethnic Chinese businesspeople from outside the nation should change their investment models for China to one that puts more emphasis on mergers and acquisitions.

“We are interested in any sector with good growth potential,” the 73-year-old told reporters. “Our business is diversified across many sectors, be it supermarkets or finance. We can invest in many areas.”

Dhanin, whose father and uncle left China’s Guangdong province in 1921 to start a seed shop in Thailand, spent more than four decades building the family business into Thailand’s biggest agricultural company and conglomerate. His net worth was estimated at $6.9 billion as of April 7, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

When asked about a Financial Times report that UBS AG had provided a $5.5 billion loan to fund the Thai company’s purchase of the Ping An stake from HSBC, Dhanin said the funds to buy the shares came from the group itself and declined to elaborate.

CP Group hopes to cooperate with Ping An in agricultural businesses in the future, Dhanin said.