BANGKOK (AFP) – A consortium led by Thailand’s largest conglomerate CP Group on Thursday signed a $7.4-billion deal to build a high-speed railway connecting three airports, the spine of an infrastructure scheme set to transform the southern coast into a tech hub.
A who’s who of the country’s business and political elite took part in the signing, including construction billionaire-turned-health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha and CP Group’s CEO Suphachai Chearavanont.
His family is Thailand’s richest thanks to its Charoen Pokphand Group – a conglomerate which spans food and telecoms – and its patriarch Dhanin is worth an estimated $17.6 billion according to Forbes.
Construction magnate Premchai Karnasuta, who was convicted on poaching charges after he was found with a black leopard pelt, is also part of the consortium building the 220-kilometre (137-mile) line.
It will shuttle passengers from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang international airports to a third one near the southeast resort city of Pattaya in under an hour.