The Irrawaddy News Magazine [Covering Burma and Southeast Asia]
Burmese Tycoons Part II
JULY, 2000 - VOLUME 8 NO.7

This is the second in a series of profiles of Burma’s business tycoons. Since the opening of Burma’s economy in 1988, the country has seen the rise of a handful of successful entrepreneurs. While information is difficult to obtain in Burma, our research team has put together a profile of these businessmen and the source of their wealth. We hope that this contributes to a more transparent view of the Burmese economy and better understanding of its politics.

U Kyaw Win [May Flower]
Myanmar May Flower Bank Limited, Chin Su Plywood Industry

U Kyaw Win, also known as May Flower Kyaw Win, is one of the leading industrialists and bankers in Burma. Born to a poor Chinese family in a small village in Northern Shan State, today his fortunes have risen to become one of the wealthiest men in Burma.

Since 1990, Kyaw Win has engaged in the timber business. And in 1994, he established Myanmar May Flower Bank. He also invested in housing projects and is involved in raising shrimp and fish as well as being a major importer of heavy machinery.

In 1968, when he was in his 20s, Kyaw Win worked in the border town of Tachilek, where he established business relationship with Thai businessmen. One of his close business allies was Thai logging tycoon Choon Tangkakarn, owner of Pathumthani Sawmills. Reports suggest that he and his Thai associate operated in the area controlled by former drug-lord Khun Sa.

U Kyaw Win serves as chairman of Myanmar May Flower Bank which is the third biggest in Burma. It was the first bank to have 24-hour automatic teller machines as of November 1995 and also was the first to introduce computer networks for transactions. The bank has ten branches in Burma. Reports suggest that the bank has plans for a large-scale telephone project.

In 1998, U Aik Hok and U Win Naing bought a large number of shares in May Flower Bank from U Kyaw Win. Since then the bank’s activities have slowed. In fact, after the transaction of the bank’s shares, the bank was financially sound. Surprisingly, instead of being more aggressive, the bank maintains a passive stance, prompting the comment by clients that the activities of the bank is not extraordinary.

Aside from Myanmar May Flower Bank, U Kyaw Win also hold positions with the following associations/businesses: Managing Director, Chin-Su Co, Ltd; Chairman, Chin-Su May Flower Plywood Industry; Chairman, TN Resources Pte Co, Ltd (Singapore); Chairman, Pathum Thani Saw Mill Co, Ltd, (Thailand); and Managing Director, Yangon Airways. Recently, newspapers in Thailand reported that U Kyaw Win was invited to attend the Asian Development Bank (ADB) meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand. According to reports, Kyaw Win was seen in Tachilek shortly after the ADB meeting concluded, suggesting that Kyaw Win came to attend the meeting. His business connections with Khun Sa remain unclear and haunt the businessman.

Kyaw Win has good connections with top ranking government officials, including Gen Maung Aye, number two in the SPDC.

U Kyaw Win

Shwe Than Lwin Company

U Kyaw Win, no relation to May Flower U Kyaw Win, is chairman of the Shwe Than Lwin Company, which imports a large number of motor vehicles, construction goods and heavy machinery into Burma. He is also engaged in business with minority groups, especially the Karen rebels, who reached a cease-fire deal with the government. Shwe Than Lwin is one of the few companies allowed to import coconut cooking oil and cement and agricultural projects in Irrawaddy division and is the sole distributor of tires from Thaton Tire Industry, which is under the Ministry of Industry (2).

Shwe Than Lwin Company is now arranging to buy shares in the Co-operative Development Bank (CDB). During the 10-year period of market economy, only three co-operative banks have been established: Co-operative Development Bank, Co-operative Bank and Co-operative Farmer Bank (CFB). Both the CDB and CFB were granted their charters at a time when permission to open banks was severely limited by the government.

Now, most shares of the three co-operative banks have already been sold and transferred at the current price, which has risen to 500% of its total investment.

U Kyaw Myint

Golden Flower Co., Ltd.,
Shwemarlar Housing Project,
Two Fish Brand Pure Groundnut oil

U Kyaw Myint is one of the wealthiest tycoons in Burma. He founded the Golden Flower Co, Ltd in 1989 and both Shwemarlar Housing Project and Two Fish Brand pure groundnut oil in 1997.

Construction on his well-known Shwemarlaryeik Mon Housing Project began on Bayinnaung Road in 1997. Two years later, Shwesabeyeik Mon Housing Project followed. These housing projects are managed very systematically and successfully. They have benefited from being the first company to introduce the conventional treatment of septic waste rather than storage in tanks.

South Dagon Oil Mill (which produces Two Fish Brand pure groundnut cooking oil) and Paing Soe are sister companies of Golden Flower. Golden Flower has been successful in the production and distribution of cooking oil on a large scale.

In addition to being engaged in the construction business, the Golden Flower Company’s mainly involved in import and export businesses. U Kyaw Myint also runs the Golden Lion Restaurant.

It has also formed a joint venture business with a Singaporean company to form Myanmar Integrated Pte, Ltd The company is involved in a port construction project that will serve the transportation of coconut cooking oil. The project is located on the Yangon River in Thilawa.

U Thein Tun

Myanmar Golden Star Co., Ltd.
Crusher Drinks, Tun Foundation Bank

U Thein Tun serves as president of Myanmar Golden Star (MGS) Co, Ltd, which was founded in 1989. He is often referred to as "Pepsi" Thein Tun as his company is famous for bringing Pepsi to Burma. MGS is one of the ten strongest businesses in Burma and reportedly benefits from U Thein Tun’s connections with ex-Lt Gen Tun Kyi.

Born to U Ba Tun and Daw Thein Nyunt in Wakema Township, Irrawaddy Division, U Thein Tun, 63, was married to Daw Nelly Than (deceased) and has 2 sons and 1 daughter. One son, U Thant Zin Tun is President of Mandalay Novotel Hotel & the LP Holding Group. His other son, U Oo Tun, is Managing Director of MGS Beverages Co, Ltd. His daughter, Daw Mi Mi Tun, serves as Executive Director of MGS Beverages Co, Ltd.

Pepsi first came to Burma in 1991 in a joint venture between MGS (controlling 60%) and Pepsi International (40%). In 1998, when Pepsi pulled out of Burma, the factory in Hmawbe township changed its name to MGS and began producing Quench, Crusher Orange, Crusher Cloudy, Crusher Frutio and Miranda Club Soda.

U Thein Tun owns a private commercial bank and 15 business companies (some of them are joint-ventures with foreign investors).

Two MGS subsidiaries—MGS Food Co, Ltd and Dagon Dairy Product Co, Ltd—produce "Sun" and "Queen" brands condensed milk in cooperation with military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holding (UMEH). In another joint-venture with UMEH, MGS is involved in housing projects and construction near Swaydaw Pagoda in Mayangon township.

Other companies that MGS has connections to include the following: Pioneer Venture Co, Ltd, which produces teak and hardwood flooring blocks at its plant in Tauk Kyant; Myanmar Development International Co, Ltd, which makes rubber and wood products at its factory in Pegu; Cycle and Carriage Golden Star Co, Ltd, which has a car showroom and provides services at its shop on Thein Pyu road; Lin International Co, Ltd, which conducts import and export trade; and Myanmar Steel Industry Co, Ltd, which produces roofing materials in its factory in the Shwepyitha Industrial Zone.

With the guidance of the present military regime, MGS Agriculture has been involved in agricultural projects in Rangoon, Irrawaddy and Magwe divisions.

U Thein Tun also runs the Tun Foundation Bank, formed in 1995, which engages in social, educational and health projects. Its Youth Care and Development Fund was established by U Thein Tun. New branches of the bank have recently opened in Bayinnaung and Mandalay.

Aside from the Youth Care and Development fund, U Thein Tun sponsors other social activities such as sports competitions for the national football and volleyball teams. He also supports golf and body building associations. For the latter, he funds the Mr. Crusher & Mr. Quench Body Building contests.

He has reportedly paid more than 120 million Kyat in business tax. He has also donated more than 150 million Kyat for social and religious causes.

His patronage has paid off. In 1997, he was awarded the title—Thirithudamamaneezawtadaya—by the military for his distinguished donations for religion and social purposes.

He also controls the Myanmar Computer Co, Ltd, MGS Commercial Co, Ltd, Myanmar Industry Co, Ltd and MGS Engineering Co, Ltd.

Michael Moe Myint

Myint & Associates Company Limited

Born in Rangoon, Michael Moe Myint served as a pilot in Myanmar Airways (MA) for 13 years. After retiring from MA in 1987, he worked at an Airways Equipment Export Company in California. In 1989, he founded Myint & Associates Group Companies and serves as Managing Director. His business is ranked as of one of the top ten companies that have succeeded in the oil and energy sector.

Currently, his company offers services to international companies in search of oil in Magwe Division as well as providing services to foreign investors in the hotel industry. His company has participated in the Yadana and Yetagun gas projects.

Michael Moe Myint has many international business connections. He served as consultant and local agent for the American-owned Baker Hughes and FMC Group, Japanese-owned Mitsui & Co, Ltd, McDermott International Inc, UK-owned Bredero Price International, and Thai-owned Shinawatra International.

He also serves as Chairman of the Yangon Sailing Boat Club and Secretary of the Myanmar Sailing Boat Association.

Endnote: This profile utilizes the following sources: Living Color magazine, Jane's Intelligence Review, Ya Ne Keh Journal, and interviews.

Copyright © 2008 Irrawaddy Publishing Group |