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Thailand's empire-building tycoons

Cashed-up execs are snapping up everything from delis to department stores abroad

BANGKOK During Thailand's boom years, between 1986 and 1996, business owners didn't have to look far beyond their own national borders to guarantee healthy profits. Growth nationally ticked along at 7% and the country's burgeoning middle class proved a big enough market to keep sales buoyant. For the past 20 years, however, Thailand's economic rise has stuttered, so company heads have increasingly looked abroad for new customers.

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