CP Group eyes healthcare arena

CHAROEN Pokphand Group is looking into a foray into the healthcare and medical-centre businesses, with the focus on expatriates and other foreigners as potential customers.

True Corp chief executive officer Suphachai Chearavanon said yesterday that CP had studied the possibility of entering those arenas and potential partnerships, but he declined to elaborate. CP Group is the parent of True.

A CP source said the group’s interest in such businesses was is in line with the government’s policy to turn Thailand into an international medical hub. The CP businesses would focus on foreign customers, the source confirmed.

In a separate matter, CP is expected officially to appoint Suphachai, 49, as its new CEO in the middle of this year. He will replace his father, the tycoon Dhanin, 76, who is now CP Group’s CEO and chairman.

Early this month Dhanin announced at an event for CP executives that his youngest son, Suphachai, would replace him as CEO, while his eldest son, Soopakij, 53, who is CP’s executive vice chairman, would assume the post of CP chairman.

Dhanin will be chairman of the CP advisory group. Currently Suphachai is also vice chairman for sustainability, good governance and corporate communications at CP Group.

Suphachai said the CP and True boards were expected to announce the management changes in either March or April. True will also have to appoint a new CEO when he leaves to head CP.

“I could not be CEO of both CP and True at the same time. We have a succession plan on the positions but I will still oversee True as director,” he said.

He added that he was strongly confident that his move to CP would not affect True operations, as the True board had been aware of this succession plan.

In May last year, True Group undertook a major management restructuring to pave the way for Suphachai to dedicate more time to CP.

Under the current structure, Adhiruth Thothaveesansuk, 53, True Group chief operating officer, is empowered to oversee all of the company’s operations. He is in charge of group operations and sales. Earlier he was chief information officer.

Suphachai said True had restructured the company to make it better able to deal with intensified competition and to fit well with the digital era.

He said True Corp was now regarded as the country’s second-largest telecommunications operator. He believes that its cellular-service business under the True Move H brand will replace Total Access Communication (DTAC) as the second-largest mobile operator in terms of subscriber numbers this year.

As of the third quarter of last year, Advanced Info Service, the country’s largest telecom company, posted revenue of Bt90.464 billion, followed by DTAC at Bt48.834 billion and True Corp at Bt42.291 billion.

As of the third quarter AIS had taken the lead in share of mobile-phone-service revenue at 49.8 per cent, with 39.8 million users. DTAC had a 26.9-per-cent revenue share with 24.8 million users and True was at 23.3 per cent with 22.6 million subscribers.