Burmese Tycoons Part II
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Burmese Tycoons Part II

By The Irrawaddy 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).

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