Tycoon Turf
covering burma and southeast asia
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
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COVER STORY

Tycoon Turf


By Aung Zaw SEPTEMBER, 2005 - VOLUME 13 NO.9


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(Page 3 of 14)

Just two glaring examples: Gen Shwe Mann’s son was given special permission to export rice, while influential businessman Tay Za, who maintains close ties with the top brass, continues to receive special privileges enabling his empire to expand and flourish.

 

Yet business in Burma is no more free of risk than anywhere in the world. As one business analyst in Rangoon puts it: “Today, you might be treated like a prince but the next day you find yourself in the dog house. They all take risks.”

 

The tycoon lurching in his limousine along Rangoon’s potholed streets attracts admiring glances from passers by. But the road is bumpy and the man cocooned in his air-conditioned luxury doesn’t appear to be that happy.

 

Tay ZaTay Za

 

As president and managing director of the Htoo Trading Company, 41-year-old Tay Za is a major player in a wide area of Burmese business and industrial activities, ranging from tourism and the hotel trade to arms imports.

 

In 1990, while still in his twenties, Tay Za set up his company with an initial capital investment of US $333,333, concentrating on the export of timber and over the years gaining access to large areas of virgin forest. Ironically, one of his most recent ambitions is to diversify into eco-tourism.

 

One of his early ventures was the foundation of Htoo Transportation Services, covering heavy duty land and marine transport. Much later, he took to the air, establishing the domestic carrier Bagan Air.

 

Rumors that Htoo had entered the telecommunications sector and planned to sell GSM cell phones were denied by the company. Other rumors say the young tycoon is preparing to break into banking.

 

Timber, transport, tourism, construction, property development, palm oil production, arms dealsthe list of the Htoo Trading Company’s interests grew impressively, and so did the company’s earnings, which finance a tycoon’s lifestyle and give him easy access to the top echelons of power. Along the way, he worked with, and then parted company from, the well-known businessman Aung Ko Win.

 

Three years into the life of the Htoo Trading Company, Tay Za expanded his dealings with the Rangoon regime by supplying the military with aircraft parts. He created Myanmar Avia Export, Burma’s sole representative of Russia’s Export Military Industrial Group, known as MAPO, and of the Russian helicopter company Rostvertol.



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