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Finance

Thailand's Central Group names ex-banker 1st president

Yol Phokasub

BANGKOK -- Thailand's retail giant Central Group is bringing on its first-ever president as it pushes ahead with an acquisition spree at home and abroad.

Yol Phokasub, the former president of Siam Commercial Bank, who stepped down in June, will assume his new post Oct. 1. He will report to Tos Chirathivat, the group's chairman and chief executive.

Tos said in a statement Sept. 21 that having "top-notch executives" is a crucial step for Central "to move forward as a truly world-class organization for future decades."

Central, whose listed subsidiaries include property development arm Central Pattana, has been expanding aggressively in recent years through a series of acquisitions. The company hopes Yol's experience in executive posts in both retail and commercial banking will help with the expansion. Before joining SCB, Yol spent 17 years at Unilever Thailand.

Central has made several other key appointments in recent months. Prasarn Trairatvorakul, former governor of the Bank of Thailand, has been the group's senior adviser since July. Nicolo Galante, a former McKinsey managing partner, recently joined as the conglomerate's chief operating officer.

After buying several century-old department stores in Europe, including Italy's La Rinascente, Central is working to strengthen its position in Southeast Asia.

Earlier this year, it purchased supermarket chain Big C's Vietnam operations in a 1 billion euro ($1.12 billion) deal, including debt, from France's Casino Group. It also assumed control of the Thai and Vietnamese operations of Zalora, a popular online fashion site founded by Germany's Rocket Internet, through Ngyuen Kim, a Vietnamese electronics retailer in which Central took a 49% stake last year.

The group has forecast 20% growth in sales this year, compared with a 13.5% rise in 2015.

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