Saturday, September 1, 2007

The rise and rise of a Cambodian capitalist


By Shawn W Crispin

PHNOM PENH – Kith Meng's is the bold new face of Cambodian capitalism. Widely considered the country's richest entrepreneur, the Sino-Khmer businessman presides over a sprawling business empire held under his Royal Group of Companies which has leveraged into and helped drive Cambodia's recent economic boom.

With impeccable political connections - including not least his role as a personal advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen - Kith Meng, 37, has secured a growing trove of lucrative government concessions, licenses and land deals that his Royal Group has in sometimes controversial fashion translated into big business profits.

Those include his controlling stakes in CTN television, mobile telecom leader Mobitel, the Camlot lottery company and a 45% stake in a commercial banking joint venture with Australia's ANZ Bank, where he serves as board chairman and reportedly drives strategic decision-making.

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