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Thailand's family conglomerates have a stranglehold over food retail

CP Group's deal for Tesco Lotus does not spell good news for consumers

| Thailand
Tesco Lotus will strengthen CP Group's strategic supply chain.   © Reuters

When the U.K.'s largest supermarket chain, Tesco, announced that it was selling its Thai and Malaysian stores to Charoen Pokphand Group, a gigantic Thai family conglomerate, for $10.6 billion, it was the biggest deal in Asia this year so far.

But for CP Group it represented a particularly sweet victory. It did not just bring Tesco Lotus hypermarkets back to their founder, billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont, who sold 75% of them to Tesco after the Asian financial crisis in 1997-98. It was also a victory over Thailand's two other family-held conglomerates, liquor-focused TCC Group and retail-centered Central Group, who both wanted the stores.

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